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Making a Difference: Chelsea Huggins

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BUTLER CO., AL (WSFA) -

You're about to meet a young woman who could so easily be bitter and give up on life after a horrific car wreck.

Chelsea Huggins, instead, has chosen to be optimistic and along the way she's discovered a deep talent for acrylic painting, a gift that has inspired others, too.

It was a Butler County road like this one two years ago when Chelsea Huggins' life changed in a very dramatic way.

"I was ejected from the back seat of an older Jeep."

Paralyzed from the chest down, much of Chelsea's life is now in a wheelchair, chained by the limitations of not being able to walk.  It is a way of her life that Chelsea has come to accept with grace.

"I think that being strong is a definitely a choice."

In the face of your paralysis, this is a young girl, all of 20, who has chosen to be optimistic, and in the process, discovered she has a gift for painting.  Chelsea says she dabbled in painting before the accident, but didn't realize the depth of her talent until afterward.

"Are you surprised?"

"Yes, I was.  You never really think someone could paint with their mouth."

Chelsea's mom Amy prepares the colors and before you know it, Chelsea goes to work.  It's a labor of love.  She uses her mouth to painstakingly make sure each stroke is just right.

"This one has been one of the longest ones because it has a lot of detailed work to it."

Chelsea tells me she has sold around 20 paintings and has been told people are astounded she's able to do this, especially the family of a 7-year-old she met on Facebook.

"She said that she wanted to be like me when she grew up, so that was really sweet."

By her own admission, Chelsea will probably never walk again, but she says she's OK with that as long as she regains full use of her arms, something Chelsea believes is a real possibility through rehabilitation.

Depending on what's she's painting, Chelsea has spent up to 8 hours on one project.  Away from the world of art, Chelsea looks ahead and is making plans to go back to college and become a psychologist.

"Definitely is my motivation to continue to push forward."

Chelsea Huggins, overcoming adversity, inspiring others in her own artful way

Chelsea says her paintings have sold anywhere from $50 to $100 each. 

Be sure to email Bryan Henry at bhenry@wsfa.com if you know someone who is making a difference in their community.

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