A story worth telling

By Ian Chini for the Culpeper Times
Rappahannock resident Roxie Beebe-Center, 10, visits with Dr. Ben Allen at his home in Culpeper. She interviewed him along with his wife Mary and daughter Amanda for an upcoming film festival project. By Ian Chini for the Culpeper Times

By Anita L. Sherman
Special to the Rappahannock News

Stephanie (Dee Dee) Slewka is an accomplished television producer and writer. She’s got a nose for news and her list of documentary films is impressive. Her daughter, Roxie, is no stranger to what it takes to put together a story and be able to tell it visually.

“She’s been around me making films since she was little, so some of this is osmosis,” says Slewka. Roxie, age 10, is in fifth grade and attends Grymes Memorial School in Orange County. One of her classmates is the son of Dr. Khalid Athar, an anesthesiologist at the Culpeper Surgery Center.

Now fitted with a prosthetic leg, Yahya is able to walk and run. He is pictured here with Dr. Ben Allen and his father Dawod Mohammed.
Now fitted with a prosthetic leg, Yahya is able to walk and run. He is pictured here with Dr. Ben Allen and his father Dawod Mohammed.

Through conversations, Roxie and her mother learned of Dr. Ben Allen, an orthopedic surgeon with the Virginia Orthopaedic and Spine Center who was born with an orthopedic birth defect crippling one leg.

Years later, his daughter Amanda Jane, is working in Afghanistan on an aid project and learns of the son of one of the security team, Yahya, who suffers from the same affliction.

What happens next is a string of events that brings the boy and his father to the United States, to the home of Dr. Allen, and eventually under the care of a team of doctors, nurses, and therapists including Allen and Athar. The end result is a five-year-old boy who is now running and playing soccer in the streets of Kabul with the aid of a prosthetic leg.

For more than three years, he crawled everywhere. He couldn’t stand upright and couldn’t walk.

“It’s a story that needs to be told,” said Slewka, and the timing for sharing that story coincided with the upcoming 4-H Youth Hour at The Film Festival at Little Washington.

Watch Roxie’s video here.

On the day of the interview, Roxie, came prepared with a list of questions.

“I like your cane,” she said to Allen who uses a novel saw shaped handled cane made by a friend. He has been wearing a prosthetic leg since he was 16. She handled the interview like a pro.

“She’s has been writing since she was tiny – the script comes from talent,” says her proud mother. As part of the Rappahannock 4-H Film Club, Roxie has also produced a very short video poem.

Roxie story-boarded the piece, which includes narrative from Dr. Allen, his wife Mary and daughter Amanda. She conducted the interviews, wrote and narrated the script and helped decide what images to put where.

The video titled Prostheses will screen this Sunday, April 10, from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Theatre at Washington, 291 Gay St. The 4-H Youth Hour includes short films from youth ages 9 through 18 from Rappahannock County and is free to all.

Anita Sherman has more of Yahya and Dr. Allen’s story here.

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