Kids With Courage: Ashlyn Greenwaldt

Ashlyn Greenwaldt
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 8:04 AM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – KTTC is honored to introduce viewers monthly to some of the youngest among us, facing the unthinkable with bravery and optimism. In our 14th “Kids With Courage” segment, Caitlin Alexander introduces us to 15-year-old Ashlyn Greenwaldt.

When you consider Ashlyn’s favorite hobby, you could say she takes bravery to new heights.

“Ballooning,” she told KTTC. She agreed to let KTTC tag along as she ‘crewed’ for Lesmeister Balloon Company one evening in southwest Rochester.

“She took the interest, came out with Dad all the time, and the more she was around it, pretty soon she was putting on gloves and holding cables,” explained Mike Lesmeister.

Ashlyn holding balloon cables.
Ashlyn holding balloon cables.(KTTC)

It is a pretty physical job, lugging equipment and handling cables.

“I’ve never really had that many people approach me about my disability,” Ashlyn explained.

Ashlyn has Spina Bifida, a birth defect, that according to Mayo Clinic, “occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.”

It affects Ashlyn’s back, legs, hips, feet, and more.

“Born that way,” said Ashlyn’s dad, David. “We were told in all the ultrasounds that there was something wrong, but they couldn’t tell us what was wrong at the time.”

David said Ashlyn was born with her spine bulging out of her back.

“It was hard. I mean, didn’t know what to think really,” he recalled.

But as the years went by, Ashlyn pushed herself.

“She was told she wasn’t going to be able to ride bikes, but yet, she proves them all wrong, and basically just defies everything that they say,” David said.

Ashlyn and her father, David.
Ashlyn and her father, David.(KTTC)

Along the way, Ashlyn has had more than a dozen surgeries.

Mayo Clinic surgeon Dr. Anthony Stans performed several of them, including on her hip stability and the rotational and angular deformity in her legs.

“She just doesn’t let anything slow her down or get in her way. She always has been really spunky,” Dr. Stans said.

Ashlyn told KTTC not every day is easy.

“My legs will hurt sometimes, but not all the time anymore, because especially with this brace,” she said, gesturing toward one of her legs.

Ashlyn said she isn’t sure what’s next for her after high school.

But on the night KTTC tagged along, Ashlyn was just another part of the team.

In doing so, she continued to defy expectations-- and gravity!

If you know a Kid With Courage Caitlin should meet, email her at

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