"When I saw her, I was terrified," said Marielle Aupont, Leel's mother through an interpreter. "I thought she was dead."
After rescuers dug her out of the rubble, doctors found her with a crushed right foot. They amputated her right leg below the knee. Aupont says her daughter had trouble accepting that her leg was gone.
Ten months later, Leel is at the Breckenridge ski resort to learn a little bit about skiing. But, maybe she's here to learn more about herself.
"She lost her leg just 10 months ago in the earthquake and you can only imagine the trauma she's experienced," said Sandy Dukat, a former Paralympian who won medals in ski racing at the 2002 and 2006 games.
Dukat, who has also had her right leg amputated, got The Hartford insurance company to bring Leel and her mother to Breckenridge for the Hartford Ski Spectacular, an event for disabled skiers from all over the world.
"Number one, she's realized she's not alone," said Dukat. "Two, she's accomplishing something that she probably never dreamed of would be possible in her life."
Leel is a shy 10-year-old girl in a country where she doesn't speak the language. She needs an interpreter to help her ski instructor. Leel had never seen snow before.
"It was like I'm inside a fridge," said Leel, through an interpreter.
With a prosthetic on her right leg, Leel strapped on the ski boots and spent two days with Margie Sinton, a ski instructor who specializes in teaching people with disabilities.
"She's from Haiti and this is so new to her," said Sinton. "The fun of watching her play in the snow and try something that (she) might have seen on TV."
Leel is trying something that she did not think amputees could do.
"So, it's not just seeing a disability community," said Dukat. "It's seeing the ability of the disability community."
Though her leg hurt and she was feeling a coldness she never felt before, Leel tackled the bunny slope. She was not afraid to ride the Poma lift. She was not afraid of falling.
"I'm proud of her," said Aupont. "I'm happy."
Aupont says her daughter is now finally accepting the reality of losing her leg by learning something she never imagined doing.
"Yes, she may never ski again, but it's going to apply to how she looks at herself every single day and looks at her ability of what she can do," said Dukat.
Dukat found Leel because they both had the same doctor fit them with a prosthetic leg. The Hartford company paid for all expenses including winter clothing for Leel and her mother.
Perhaps Leel will have a different outlook on life than she had 10 months ago.
"It was like a miracle for me," said Leel. "It was wonderful."
(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)