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WDAY Staff Reports, Published May 16 2013

Three-year-old with only one leg running in Fargo Marathon Youth Run

FARGO - Runners of nearly every age and every state will participate in this weekend's Fargo Marathon. The festivities get started tomorrow night with the World's Largest Youth Run.

And if you need any extra inspiration, look any further than Annabelle Hannig.

Annabelle Hannig loves to run around and play just like any ordinary three-year-old. She'll even show you her special collection, if you ask.

Annabelle Hannig, 3 1/2 Years Old: “These legs are very special to me because I was very small. I like the baby leg best.”

It was the smallest prosthetic leg the Shriner's Hospital had ever made. Annabelle, or Annie, as she's known, was born with fibular hemimelia, without a fibula bone in her left leg, a condition only found in every 40,000 births. She was also born with left hip dysplasia and a clubbed right foot. She's undergone five surgeries, an amputation, and a full hip reconstruction in her short life.

“The full hip reconstruct was the worst surgery," said Liz Hannig, Annabelle’s Mom. "She was in a full body cast, a lot of pain. We couldn't hold her to comfort her. That's by far our toughest.”

“She's just, like, someone special,” said Brooklyn Hannig, Annabelle’s Sister.

“I think it's made her stronger," Liz Hannig. "At gymnastics, a girl asked her, ‘What's wrong with your foot?’ Annie said, ‘There's nothing wrong with my foot,’ and gave two thumbs up and walked away.”

Annie, along with parents Troy and Liz and big sister Brooklyn, have made nearly 80 trips to Shriner's Hospital in Minneapolis; the earliest, when she was just six days old. Tomorrow, they'll be giving back to the place that's given them so much.

“Shriner's helped with her leg so we decided we should run a marathon to help get money for Shriner's,” Brooklyn Hannig said.

“Yeah, the Fargo Marathon!” Annie said.

With help from friends, the Hannig's designed and sold 144 "Team Annie" T-shirts that'll be worn throughout Marathon weekend but specifically worn during tomorrow's Youth Run. Annie will be taking part.

“I really want to run in the race," Annie said. "Running is fun!”

The theme on the "Team Annie" shirt says it all.

“That's where 'No Excuses' came in," Liz Hannig said. "If my daughter can run with her hip out of socket, a prosthetic leg and a clubbed foot, pretty much anyone can run.”

Selling "Team Annie" shirts, along with cash donations, including a $500 one from the Fargo Marathon itself, the Hannig's raised $5,000 for Shriner's Hospitals.

“They do remarkable things," Liz Hannig said. "When she was born, not knowing if she'd ever be able to crawl or walk, and now seeing her run with all the other 3 and 4-year-olds, I feel like she is an inspiration to other people.”

“Most of my friends think it'd be pretty cool to have a sister like that, and I think it's pretty cool,” Brooklyn Hannig said.