Claire Juip
A Grosse Pointe fourth-grader's experience with a rare disease inspired her to write a letter that won first place in a national writing contest.

And Claire Juip, 9, is herself an inspiration — to her family, to her friends and to the community around her school, St. Paul Catholic School in Grosse Pointe Farms.

She and her brother, 11-year-old Jake, have Friedreich's ataxia. The genetic condition causes progressive damage to the parts of the nervous system involved in muscle control.

Despite the prospect of likely having to use a wheelchair someday, both children are filled with optimism, working to educate people about the condition and participating in sometimes painful medical studies in the hope of helping others.

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