Woman told she would never walk, talk defies the odds with faith (+video)

Published: Monday, May 20 2013 3:05 p.m. MDT

Moving Forward with cerebral palsy

"They treated me normal and because of that I saw myself as normal," Baird said. "I was able to accomplish anything I wanted to do. My parents and siblings never told me, 'Oh you're not going to be able to do that.' They always said, 'If you want to do that then try it, and we'll see what happens.' They would always come and support me in anything that I did."

Baird laughed as she recalled one of her favorite, yet annoying, comments she often heard growing up.

"When I'd ask them to do something, my family would say, 'What, are your legs broken?' … I feel like the more normal we treat people, the more potential they see in themselves in what they can do.

"I truly believe that I would be miserable without the way that my family treated me. It's almost as if I would always be 'Woe is me,' but I didn't have the option to be that growing up, so I don't have that option now as an adult."

Although Baird felt normal at home, she still had hopes that one day her struggles would go away and that she wouldn't have to feel different at school with the other kids.

"The things that upset me when I was younger weren't that important. You know people were being mean to me or some people would push me down at school, and I'd come home and I'd cry for a second and then move on," Baird said. "As you get older you kind of understand when mean things are happening to you, but at the same time I understand that words are just words, and I can take what I want from it."

While growing up, Baird participated in many activities, such as softball, soccer, playing the piano and cello, even participating in beauty pageants. She knew she was different and wasn't sure how people would react, yet she didn't let it hold her back.

"I was definitely scared because I didn't know what people were going to think," Baird said. "But it didn't matter what people thought because I knew how I felt about myself."

Rather than seeing herself as someone who is different because of a "disability," Baird believes that she is just like anyone else, that her struggles are just more visible than others.

"Everybody has a disability, some we can see and some we can't," Baird said. "Just tell yourself, 'I need to try and see a positive attitude, or try to make something out of this experience.' I think that can help anybody."

But Baird was quick to admit that it's not always easy to see things or deal with different situations with a positive outlook.

"Obviously, I'm not happy all the time about this," Baird said. "There are some days where I get sad, and I allow myself to be sad for a short period of time. But then I'm like, 'You know what, I could have it a lot worse. I know people who have the same disability that I have, and they have it a lot worse. So I just need to remember to be grateful.’ ”

When Baird was in high school, she had difficulty finding a job.

"I had to work for my dad because nobody would hire me," Baird said. "There was a discussion once where my dad told me, 'You know, if you go to college you will be more qualified, and you will be able to have a career. People won't be able to not give you a job.' So it was then and there that I decided to go to college."

Baird attended Brigham Young University-Idaho, studying social work program. Her emphasis of study was personal; having dealt with several social workers in her lifetime, Baird also wanted to make a difference. As graduation grew closer, she looked into the option of pursuing a master's degree.

After deciding there was still more she wanted to do, Baird attended the University of Texas at Austin and received a master's degree in social work. She currently works at the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office as a counselor, working with victims of crime.

In working to exceeded expectations and overcome limitations, Baird constantly turns to her faith and membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for strength.

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