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Living life beyond limits - Special Report - KOAM TV 7

Living life beyond limits - Special Report

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"Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them. But do not let them master you." 
- Helen Keller

The Missouri House passed legislation aimed at increasing inclusion of people with disabilities.  Public school students would have to learn ways to include kids with disabilities in daily activities.  But some people with special needs have already figured out that a disability does not have to be an obstacle.

They are athletes, workers and world travelers, not letting their disabilities define their lifestyles.

Heidi Coppenbarger, 38, spends her days at the Cerebral Palsy center, but she and mom Mechelle like to hit the road in a travel trailer.

They have seen Disneyworld, the Tulsa Aquarium, Branson and more.

It's not always easy, but it is possible.

"We get up everyday at 4:30 to get here by 7:30," says Mechelle.  "It takes two hours to get her ready to go someplace because she is tube fed and the asthma treatments."

Kaylyn Shuster, 8, faces similar challenges, especially when her family took a trip to Orlando, Florida.

"We had to carry, I think we counted 21 bags between regular stuff, medical equipment, medicines, but we just feel  like for her anything she's capable of doing, to offer her that chance - we don't want to be the ones to hold her back," says Kaylyn's mom, Angie.

Center officials say there are some things that can be dangerous for an individual for health reasons as there are for any of us.

But...

"There is no limit to what you can do," says Cerebral Palsy Center Director Christy Graham, PhD.  "If you step back think about what it is and do some really good planning.  It's operationally defined by the individuals set of circumstances, but having fun - everybody want to have fun - and there are many many ways but sometimes you just have to think out of the box."

That is the mission of Community Support Services of Missouri which organizes bowling nights, trips, cruises, dinners out and dances.

"We have as many as hundred or more with special needs getting out and dancing," says Community Support Services Executive Director Jhan Hurn.  "(We) have themes.  Nobody has more fun than a group with special need - have a great time."

When it comes to big trips individuals pay their own way.

Many work, like Tyler Nelson who has had a job in a grocery store for nine years.  He and his mom, Tammy Voyt, saved money for a trip to Egypt.

"Feel good - a lot of people don't have job right now and keep a job like I can," Nelson says.  "See everything, see the pyramids, see the kings, queens, Ramses, go down the Nile."

Voyt doesn't always go.  She has put Nelson on a plane to visit relatives out of state too.

"It's kind of like a 'go with God thing,'" says Voyt.  "If I try to protect him every move, every turn in the road, I don't think he would have grown to be the young man he is today."

Amanda Byrd, 19, doesn't look disabled or act that way.  She's an artist who works at McDonalds, and is an athlete who won the gold in the pentathlon at a local Special Olympics, and traveled to Nationals, winning silver.

Byrd has learned to deal with her learning disability despite facing discrimination in school.

"When I was in grade school people made fun of me a lot," says Byrd.  "'You're so weird - you're retarded.'  No I'm not, you're the oddball."

While Byrd trains seriously for Special Olympics she knows a key to success in life is all about  attitude and says she feels like there is nothing she can not do, like competing at Nationals.

"I challenge myself - I like to," Byrd says.  "It showed that I have issues but I can still do what you can do."

"If you tell Amanda she can't do something," says her mom Lori, "she's going to prove you wrong and she's going to do her best to do it.  She will work hard, ten times harder than somebody else to accomplish that goal, she will accomplish it somehow."

Amanda hopes to go to art school.

Tyler wants his own apartment.

Kaylyn likes to play.

And Heidi plans to go to Vegas.

They are setting their sights high and beyond limits.

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