A local 9-year-old boy who was born with a rare form of vascular malformation, has learned he will have to have his leg amputated in about three weeks.
But, instead of being sad about it, he sees it as his chance to be normal. And, he's teaching others with his positive attitude.
Ethan Perez is not shy, joking and smiling when we first met this 4th grader at Endeavor Elementary School. Those smiles were not expected from someone who knows what's about to happen to him.
"Well, I'm getting my leg amputated," Ethan said casually. "This leg is just like weak. It's locked up right now. I don't really use it at all so this leg gets all of the pressure."
Ethan was born with Arteriovenous Malformation, or AVM. The degenerative disorder made it impossible for Ethan to walk when he was four. Now, he uses crutches, rides a tricycle, and hops on his good leg to get to where he needs to be.
"Well, I know it looks like amazing," said Ethan of his hopping. "But, like the first couple days was hard. Just hopping around, using crutches, but now my body is just used to it."
But, there is no getting used to the pain in his leg. It is progressively getting worse. It's why doctors have told Ethan's parents it's time to amputate.
"To hear your son is going to lose a limb, it's not easy," explained Tony Perez, Ethan's father.
"He says he almost feels like a failure, like he's given up," said Debbie Perez, Ethan's mother. "And, I say no, you haven't given up. You've tried more than anybody."
Speaking of trying, through all of this, Ethan is a straight "A" student.
"He's a great student," said Ethan's teacher, Ethan Wohlgemuth. "He's been here since kindergarten, so he has a lot of friends."
With so many friends, Ethan won a spot on the student council last year, and he's running for a second term now.
"Because I want to show that kids with disabilities can win," explained Ethan.
It's that attitude that makes facing something like losing a leg easier for Ethan. He sees it as a positive, getting rid of something that's broken, for a future prosthetic.
"They say I'm going to be able to run and walk and do a normal kid's life," said Ethan.
He doesn't know it, but Ethan's determination is an inspiration. A 9-year-old's desire just to be normal keeps the perspective of those around him, in check.
"Ethan's is a little more visible than everybody else and yet he keeps this great attitude," said Wohlgemuth. "So, I think the other students just need to learn from that, to keep a great attitude and keep trying."
"I have parents come to me all of the time and say you don't know what an inspiration he is and how he's taught our children to be positive and loving and caring," said Debbie Perez of her son.
"He shines," said Tony Perez of his son. "He can walk into a room and make everyone smile. That's Ethan. He's full of life and that hasn't changed."
Ethan has asked his doctors at UCLA to schedule his amputation for September 25th and they are trying to accommodate his request.
Ethan says the first thing he wants to do when he gets a prosthetic is run. He says he can't remember what that feels like.