Girl Keeps Dreams Alive Despite Birth Defect

By: Brittany Gunter
By: Brittany Gunter

A young girl tries to make her dream of becoming a model a reality, but she’s turned down because of something she was born with. Her mom is trying to turn the disappointment into a valuable life lesson.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star,” sings 6-year-old Payton Ladehoff. She is a star in the making. She says her favorite thing is “being on stage.”

Not only does she love to perform, but also pose in front of a camera, so her mom Amber decided to contact a modeling agency. “We made an appointment, then we were going to meet with the director.”

First though she felt it was important to point out to the agency something that sets Payton apart. Payton was born with amniotic band syndrome, which means one of her hands is smaller than the other.

When the agency found out, she says the cancelled the appointment. “For me it was really sad, because it was like they were discriminating against her because of her birth defect,” said Amber. She wanted to turn the setback into a comeback though.

"I don't want her growing up thinking that she has to be ashamed of it.” She created an organization called When I Grow Up Nebraska, to teach Payton and other kids not to let anything get in the way of their dreams. "They can be whatever they want to be when they grow up."

An important lesson Payton seems to have learned. "It doesn't matter what your hands look like,” said Payton.

Payton says she will keep on performing and looking for her next big break.

The organization does have an event coming up. For more information go to

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