Up & Walking


She hasn’t walked in more than a year, but on Thursday, she’s on her feet. 

After a bad fall took her ability to walk, Alexa Paloma Melo Mendez came all the way from the Dominican Republic to Sioux Falls for treatment.

Getting back on her feet has been a long journey for 7-year-old Alexa.

“Here was this dad with his daughter who had this horrible hip fracture that had had surgery that had failed, and she was not walking,” Dr. Bradley Reeves with Sanford Hospital said. 

Reeves met her while on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.  

“There was nothing we could do down there. We didn’t have the equipment; we were very limited,” Reeves said.

After a surgery in her home country failed, Reeves began working on a plan to get Alexa to the U.S. 

“There’s a committee to help kids from the third world and so we started in with that committee in April, and then elected to bring her up here in July,” Reeves said.

Because of her previous surgery, Sanford doctors were unable to operate on Alexa, so they turned to physical therapy.  

Shy but strong, she says sometimes the therapy hurts, but she isn’t going to give up. 

After a year and a half of being unable to walk, two weeks of physical therapy changed her life.

With the help of physical therapist Grant Boltjes, Alexa is now up and walking on her own and talking about the experience with the help of her translator.

“She says she likes to jump, dance, run,” her translator said.

Those are just a few of the things she’s excited to do now that she can stand on her own again. Reeves says it’s incredible to see her getting the chance to be independent, and he can’t believe how quickly it happened.  

“It was once said that you haven’t really lived until you’ve done something for someone that can never repay you,” Reeves said.

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