Metro Detroit woman's project to help people with limb differences goes global

Lucky Fin project raises awareness about people with limb differences

A mother's love is strong, and in one woman's case it's also persistent, inspiring and truly changing the lives of strangers.

Local 4 introduced viewers to the Lucky Fin project a few years ago. It's an initiative to raise awareness for people with limb differences, and some major developments have helped it gain global attention -- even a newly released documentary.

Ryan Stapleman is 9 years old and anyone who looks closely will notice she is missing her fingers on her right hand. When she was born, the limb difference worried her mother for a short time, but then she renamed her daughter Lucky Fin and started a nonprofit organization. Now she's helping people all around the world.

The documentary features men, women and children dealing with limb differences. All of them give credit to the Lucky Fin project for giving them hope, inspiration and understanding.

The project was started by Molly Stapleman, who shared her story with Local 4 years ago when her daughter was just 4 years old.

"When creating (the) Lucky Rin project, and particularly the awareness brochures, I wanted to create something friendly and welcoming, not something clinical," Stapleman said. "I wanted it to be an invitation. I wanted it to be a happy thing, and again, with the message that you're not alone."

Now her awareness brochures are sent out to 26 countries, greeting parents in hospital birthing rooms when they are most afraid after realizing their child is different.

Stapleman holds events where people with limb differences can get together.

"There's a community out there, and we're waiting for you," Stapleman said. "You're not alone."

"I feel proud of my mom because she's helping people all around the world," Ryan said.

Ryan and her mother spend countless hours at the kitchen table making bracelets and raising awareness. They even decided to add a puppy as a member of their family. The puppy's name is Turtle, and he is missing his front paw.

"People said, 'Oh, you're getting a mascot,'" Stapleman said. "Oh no, no, no. We're getting a family member."

"I'm just, like, happy about it because I love all animals and if I see there's an animal like me, I feel more proud and happy about myself," Ryan said.

To learn more about the Lucky Fin project, you can check out its social media pages and website in the links below.

You can view the documentary about Lucky Fin by clicking here.

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.