GALESBURG, Ill. – Chance Smith loves to paint and draw.
He's taken art classes since he was in sixth grade; he used to be in the art club at Galesburg High School, and he especially likes drawing wolves and graffiti.
"I've always really had the talent to look at something and draw it," Chance said. "You give me an image to draw, and I can look at it and draw it perfectly."
This talent is noteworthy, but what makes Chance, 17, particularly impressive is that he paints and draws everything with his mouth. He has to do this because he has a rare condition called arthrogryposis that affects his joints.
"My elbows are locked in place. My hands are locked in place; I can't move them," Chance said. "My legs used to be that way."
Before he had surgery to straighten his legs, he could walk on his knees.
"It didn't hurt me at all," Chance said. "That's the way I walked around."
He can now walk with braces but spends most of his time in a wheelchair. Since he can't use his hands for much besides positioning things, he uses his mouth for almost everything. To paint and draw, Chance holds the brush or pencil in his mouth and positions the paper with his hands. He first began using his mouth when he learned to write in school.
"From there I started drawing and painting and doing everything I possibly could with my mouth," Smith said.
This includes playing a lot of Xbox 360. He plays everything from "Call of Duty" to "Grand Theft Auto."
"My girlfriend's better than me, but I'm really good," Chance said of his video gaming skills.
He's also able to type. He volunteers at OSF Saint Mary Medical Center in the morning and uses a typing stick to type with his mouth. At school, he's able to use the Chromebooks without a problem.
"I can type faster than a lot of people. Sometimes she says I type faster than she does," Chance said, referring to his personal assistant Kandice Miles.
Miles helps Chance throughout the day and has been his assistant since he was a freshman.
"He's a good kid," Miles said. "I'm kind of bummed that he's graduating."
Chance is a senior this year and will graduate in the spring. He's not sure what he's going to do next.
"I thought about going into video game design, but I'm not really sure at the moment. I'm debating on if I want to go to college or not."
For fun, Chance said he enjoys playing Xbox and hanging out with his friends.
"I went through a little bullying probably through elementary school and middle school, and then I got some friends that helped me through that," Chance said.
Chance lives in Wataga with his adopted parent, Carolyn Perkins. Perkins became his foster parent when Chance was 10 and eventually adopted him.
"She's the best foster parent I've ever had," Chance said.
Perkins said Chance thinks he can do everything.
"He wanted to go into the Army," Perkins said. "Finally, the recruiters at school told him, we don't have anything for you to do."
He also wanted to play baseball, so Perkins had him join a handicapped baseball league.
"He said, 'Grandma, you know that's not the kind of baseball I wanted to play,' " Perkins said.
Perkins said she has enjoyed being Chance's parent.
"I've never regretted it one minute," she said. "He keeps me company."