Doreen's Story

Images Captured by Sherry Penner Photography

At age 19, Tiny Light Doreen isn’t so tiny anymore, but she represents the
courage and strength that connect all the children who are a part of the Tiny Light
Foundation. She’s beaten the odds and refuses to allow her disability to prevent her
from achieving what she wants to achieve.

Doreen was born with spina bifida myelomeningocele. This severe birth defect is
caused by the failure of bones in the spine to fully develop, causing the spinal cord
to protrude out of the back. Surgery corrected this problem but Doreen was left with
difficulties walking and other issues caused by the defect. When she was adopted
at age three and a half, Doreen’s new family saw to it that she had tethered cord
surgery and, despite doctors’ predictions, she was able to walk unassisted by the age
of four.

Doreen’s hope and determination have enabled her to live her life the way she
chooses instead of allowing her disability to determine her course. Doreen’s mom,
Ada, says, “People with spina bifida are able to do lots of things, just in a different
way than most people.” Doreen enjoys hanging out with friends, swimming, playing
sledge hockey and sharing her hope with the children she meets in the hospital.
Doreen may face more surgeries and will certainly have further challenges in the
future, but she doesn’t allow any of that to get her down. She is an inspiration to her
family and friends and especially to her birth father, with whom she was recently

Story written by Angela Funk
Edited by Karin Keefe