When Melissa Shang, a Paoli girl who wanted to see an American Girl doll that had something in common with her, started a petition on Change.org in late December, her goal was a modest 10,000 signatures.
Less than eight days later, she’s more than quadrupled her aim.
Shang’s petition, asking the American Girl brand, to name a doll with a disability its 2015 “Girl of the Year,” has over 71,000 signatures as of Tuesday.
Her cause has been aided by her story being picked up by several national news outlets.
According to a report from USA Today, the people at American Girl are aware of the petition.
“We appreciate the enthusiasm and trust our fans have in us to create products and stories that speak to diversity and inclusion, and we applaud Melissa Shang for her amazing spirit and positivity.”
Shang has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which damages the peripheral nerves, causing muscle weakness and decreased muscle size, according to the Mayo Clinic. She uses a wheelchair.
Melissa's petition states:
"For once, I don’t want to be invisible or a side character that the main American Girl has to help: I want other girls to know what it’s like to be me, through a disabled American Girl’s story. Disabled girls might be different from normal kids on the outside. They might sit in a wheelchair like I do, or have some other difficulty that other kids don’t have. However, we are the same as other girls on the inside, with the same thoughts and feelings. American Girls are supposed to represent all the girls that make up American history, past and present. That includes disabled girls."