Overcoming all odds

Isaiah Delotell, of Portsmouth, was born without use of his arms but uses his feet to continue developing his passion of playing and designing video games and making gaming videos for his YouTube fans.

Nikki Blankenship photos Delotell overcomes his lack of use of his arms by playing with his feet.

By Nikki Blankenship


Isaiah Delotell, 13, of Portsmouth, is a determined and extraordinary young man that shows how to truly make the best of what life offers.

Delotell was born with arthrogryposis.

“It’s a muscle and tendon disorder,” Isaiah’s father Steve Delotell explained.

Children’s Hospital explains that arthrogryposis is a rare disorder that causes multiple joint contractures and weakness throughout the body. Every joint can be affected including the jaw and spine. Steve explained that many people with arthrogryposis also struggle with mental limitations. He added that when Isaiah was born, his birth mother was told that he would never walk. Steve added that Isaiah’s disorder was caused by a lack of adequate amniotic fluid, leaving him with little room to develop and move properly in the womb.

Though many with arthrogryposis have severe limitation, Isaiah, continues to exceed everyone’s expectations by showing there is little he can’t do. He has no mental disabilities, and his physical disabilities mostly affect his arms and legs. Isaiah has no use of his arms; however, he continues to perform everyday task with his feet. Growing up without the ability to do things like everyone else taught him to be resilient and to adapt to accomplish tasks in his own way.

“All the way through school, he was in disabled classes because of his physical conditions, not because of his brain conditions,” Steve stated.

Isaiah attends school at the Valley Local School District, where he is a model student behaviorally and academically. He makes straight A’s and has been recognized with the 2016 R.A. Horn Outstanding Student Achievement Award, an honor that recognizes student excellence among those with disabilities.

Isaiah was the only student recognized with the distinction in Southern Ohio. Last year, he was also Student of the Year at his school. Isaiah does all his own homework by writing with his feet. He hopes to continue to excel academically by becoming Valley’s first disabled valedictorian.

In addition to setting academic standards, Isaiah touches the lives of all those around him. His physical limitations do not stop him from being a hero.

“Three years ago, I fell and could not get up,” grandmother Lois Delotell stated.

She continued by explaining that she fell outside, and Isaiah could not open the door on his own. Thinking quickly, he saw a mail carrier a few houses down and asked that she let him into his house. Once inside, he called 911 using his mouth and chin. Even the paramedics were surprised by his abilities and willingness to help those around him.

“He will also be starting volunteer work at the nursing home,” Lois added.

Isaiah explained that he wants to volunteer to work with the elderly because he worries that they get lonely and need someone to talk to. He can play chess and checkers and enjoys conversation and reading. Isaiah is even on the chess team at school, so he can offer a challenge.

“I want to help people,” Isaiah commented.

Quite the athlete, Isaiah is one the early members of the Challenger League baseball team, basketball team and Just For Fun Bowling. He also hunts with his grandpa. But, his main passion is video games. In fact, Isaiah wants to go to college to study game design. He plays video games on his Xbox, tablet and laptop by using his feet. He also is a YouTuber, creating his own videos of him demonstrating his gaming skills.

“I love video games,” Isaiah stated. “It is something that I think is fun but that I am also really good at.”

Minecraft is one of his favorite games. As a game designer, he hopes to create free roaming games because he enjoys those the most. His YouTube channel can be found at IsaiahD1.

Isaiah has had to have some special equipment to assist him. He has a phone that works by voice command. He also has a 1976 Camero that he wants to paint yellow like the Bumblebee in the Transformer movies. However, in order for his to drive, Isaiah will have to have his car modified. It can be adapted so that the steering does not require use of his hands.

Most often, however, Isaiah just perseveres. He figures things out on his own. He even plays in the school band by drumming with his feet.

The young man inspires all that he meets, grandmother Tina Pollard explained.

He shows that no matter what a person faces in life, they can overcome and exceed.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.