The Wheeling Village Board honored Emma Alt, a 10-year-old with congenital muscular dystrophy, and her parents this week.
Village President Dean Argiris introduced the Alts and said everyone loves Emma's smile.
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"Emma Alt has been embraced by our community," he said, praising the warmth and generosity of Wheeling's residents and businesses.
Trustee Kenneth R. Brady presented Tania and Peter Alt with a check for $5,352 from a recent pancake breakfast hosted by the Knights of Columbus. Argiris and several trustees worked at the event.
Tania Alt related the story of the family's battle with Emma's degenerative condition, including dangerous spinal surgery in July that she is still recovering from.
The couple has been unemployed for three years and medical expenses cost them their home, she said.
Tania Alt had her own surgery after a car accident and is unable to lift more than five pounds. This has required Peter to stay home to care for Emma.
"This has been very hard on him because he has always been a hard worker and thinks he should be working for his family," she said.
Both expressed their gratitude to the community.
"This is the last place I thought we would ever have to be," said Tania Alt. "We are thankful for all these friends and family that truly do care about us."
The Alts have set up a Web page for people who want to donate for Emma, gofundme.com/AHOMEFOREMMA