VISTA (CBS 8) - The non-profit organization Canine Companions for Independence has given a life-changing $50,000 gift to a North County teenager.
Born with spina bifida, Hannah Chilton has been paralyzed from the waist down since birth. Although her family treats her like any other person, there are strangers who stare.
"People that don't know me, when I'm on the street or walking around in the mall, people look at me. Don't really like it," she said.
Hannah says her birth defect makes her live life harder and louder than she would have with no disability. From crazy hair colors to sled hockey, surfing, archery and horseback riding, she screams for life to bring it on.
"She takes her disability with grace. It's amazing to me. I don't know how she does it," her mother Julia said.
Especially when you consider she barely bounced back from more than 14 brain, back and bladder surgeries.
"A couple of them, we didn't know," Julie said.
Hannah's mother Julie helps her daughter with everyday tasks.
"Helps bathe me, helps take me to the bathroom. Just like normal, everyday stuff that you would take for granted," Hannah said.
Her mom can't go to college with her, but her new service dog can. At two years old, Obi-Wan is still learning the tricks of his trade, but the bond they share is ready to go, first to community college, then to L.A.
"He means independence for me basically. Without him, UCLA would not even be a thought," Hannah said.
Canine Companions for Independence gave Obi-Wan to Hannah free of charge.
She plans on majoring in psychology at UCLA.