GIVEN A CHANCE...a little girl's journey
The Story of Kassie
Areas Covered in Documentary
Kassie's Struggle
The Introduction
Service Dog Dakota
The Producers
The Website
Kassie in wheelchair
Kassie and Dakota
Baby Kassie & Tami Lynn
A 50 minute educational video focusing on adopting children with ‘special needs’, as seen through the eyes of a young lady with cerebral palsy.

Kassie & her mom Tami Lynn

A little help from a friend.

Five Points

  • Exploring what life is like adopting a child with a disability. Their need for therapy – surgery – special equipment.
  • Dealing with cerebral palsy and other debilitating conditions....creatively.
  • The emotional pain experienced by teens with disabilities in the school system – like being ignored and excluded.  A look at the need for educating students and teachers on the proper treatment of people with disabilities.
  • Life as an adult with a disability – socializing, getting around and being accepted by society.
  • Adopted or not a child with a disability presents challenges.

Making the Best..

Kassie Marriner, who was adopted, and is now 17, is featured in this educational video. She narrates the program, and understands the challenges. Kassie has cerebral palsy

"Given a Chance...a little girl's journey" is more than an adoption video, it is the story of a struggle against the odds. Kassie was born drug addicted and given little chance for survival. She overcame those odds, and has developed into a remarkable young lady.

For people with physical challenges and other special needs, there are struggles everyday. What most people take for granted, those with a disability must adjust their lives to compensate, often times is it frustrating.

Imagine waking up one morning and finding out you couldn't walk. How would your life change? What would you do? Would it turn your world upside down? How would you get to work? What modifications would you have to make to live a 'normal' life? How would people treat you? These are some of the issues covered in the educational video "Given A Chance...a little girl's journey."

Not all people with special needs have motor problems. Some have learning disabilities, or emotional problems or other physical challenges. There are thousands of special needs children waiting to be adopted into loving and nurturing families. "Given A Chance...a little girl's journey" features interviews with professionals who are trying to locate adoption homes for the un-adopted.

This is not a sad or depressing educational video, it is an uplifting and inspiring look at Kassie's journey to be accepted for the person that she has become.

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Billy Bob Thornton & Kassie

"The only thing perfect is love"

-John Ritter-

Billy Bob Thornton and Kassie

How The Introduction Came To Be

“How do you treat someone with a disability?  Like a person.” Tom Ritter speaks those words in the documentary Given A Chance…a little girl’s journey. Tom was born with cerebral palsy, but never allowed his physical challenge to dictate his life. Tom became a lawyer.

Together with his brother, the late actor/comedian John Ritter, Tom helped raised millions of dollars for the United Cerebral Palsy Association.  More importantly, they help raise public awareness of the condition.  For more than 15 years John Ritter co-hosted the UCP national telethon along with Henry Winkler and Nancy Dussault.  

Kassie Marriner, who is featured in the special needs video Given A Chance…a little girl’s journey, met John Ritter on the set of the telethon in 1989.  For the next several years Kassie and John shared moments together on the program. John was gracious with his time, and sat down for an interview, which is featured in Given A Chance…a little girl’s journey to talk about growing up with a brother who has cerebral palsy.  He spoke affectionately about his mother’s efforts to help tear down the barriers that restricted people with physical challenges, and shared memories of his childhood with Tom.  

Just before John Ritter passed away he saw a rough-cut of Given A Chance, and asked Kassie’s mom, Tami Lynn, if he could to do the on-camera introduction to the special needs video.  John’s sudden death prevented that, but his close friend. Billy Bob Thornton stepped in and provided the introduction.  Billy Bob Thornton and John Ritter were great friends, having worked together on both television and in motion pictures. Tami Lynn asked Billy Bob Thornton to fill in, and he didn’t hesitate.

Service Dog DAKOTA

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Kassie's has four extra legs to help her get around. Dakota is a walker dog; he helps provide balance and support. Dakota was trained through Canine Support Teams, and came into Kassie's life seven years ago. Dakota is licensed by the state of California as a service dog and goes everywhere Kassie goes. In the educational video Given A Chance...a little girl's journey, Kassie Marriner explains how important having a service dog is to her, and demonstrates what he does to provide assistance. Dakota even travels on airplanes with Kassie, and recently made the long flight to Hawaii with no difficulties. He is a service dog when he's working, but take his harness of and let him loose in the backyard and he's just like any other dog.

Dakota waits at restaurant

Companion Dog Dakota patiently waits in a restaurant for Kassie to finish her dinner

The Producers of "Given A Chance..a little girl's journey".

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Kim, Tami and Kassie adoption
Dakota full face

Executive Producer Tami Lynn has been involved in the entertainment industry for more than 35 years. She has spent the better part of her career as a Personal Manager, guiding the careers of many well-known celebrities. Most recently she has been producing projects ranging from motion pictures to adoption videos. Tami Lynn considers Given A Chance...a little girl's journey one of the most important projects she has been involved with, because the 'star' of the special needs video is her own daughter Kassie. Together with her husband, journalist Kim Marriner, they have watched Kassie face her challenges and develop into a remarkable young lady. The adoption of Kassie changed their lives.

Kassie calls him "the best dog in the world".

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About The Web site

"Given A Chance..a little girl's journey" is designed to offer hope to people with physical challenges. Creativity is the key, finding ways to make the best out of a difficult situation. As you browse the site, please visit some of the organizations in our links list. They can provide more detailed information on services available to people with "special needs". If you are considering for adoption a child with 'special needs' there are agencies listed to guide you down the right path. Every child is precious. Every child deserves to be loved. Every child needs to be Given A Chance.

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Creative Steps

Kassie Marriner's journey is not unlike the path taken by thousands of people with physical challenges. The key to a successful journey is creativity. In Kassie's case, physical therapy has been a weekly routine all her life. It is sometimes painful, sometimes boring. Finding different forms of physical therapy has been helpful for Kassie. For example, through Dolphin-Human Therapy in Key Largo, Florida Kassie had a week-long physical therapy regimen, that included swimming with the dolphins. Dolphin therapy is shown to have benefits for some youngsters with disabilities. Dolphins were just one avenue Kassie Marriner traveled on her journey. Massage therapy was another, so was electrical stimulation therapy. All designed to keep the routine from becoming -- routine --. Several of these different forms of therapy are explored in Given A Chance..a little girl's journey.