It’s the dead of winter in January 2007, there is no movement outside, the cold dry air silent among stale frail trees. The sun has been scared away until it finds its way back again in spring. I am in the 10th grade sitting stiffly in World History class. I am looking down at the notes my teacher printed out ahead of time for me. I tune him out for a moment as mind drifts of to dreamland, thinking about the future. My future. What is my future going to look like? Will I be going to college? Will I find an occupation and be successful? Will I have friends after high school? Will I get married? Will I achieve all these things I want with having cerebral palsy? I then smiled to myself and replied: “Yes I will, I just have to set my mind on the things I want to achieve. “No one will do it for me! I am in for the ride!”
My name is Laura Andert. I am 30 years old and was born with a mild condition of cerebral palsy. Although I wasn’t old enough to comprehend what having this “mild CP “meant when I was officially diagnosed at 3 years old, something stirred up in my unconscious mind and was crying to get out. My healthcare team said I could go through life with either walking or talking. I wanted to blurt out at them, “Excuse me, but I WILL go through life with walking and talking! Thank you!” I proved them wrong. I’ve overcome every obstacle and challenge in life and continue persevering and being an advocate for myself. It’s in my blood!
After accomplishing my goals thus far, a fire burning sensation has been inside me to get my story out there. I want to help other people just like me realize they can accomplish anything they set their mind to with having a disability! To those of you reading this, please believe me when I say this: “Yes, YOU CAN accomplish anything you want in life.” By holding your head high, preserving through some barriers and speaking up for what you need or want, you can have the future you want. You with me, here!? Imagine me right next to you holding out my hand reaching for your hand and looking right in your eyes, saying “Regardless of having a disability, YOU CAN accomplish anything you want to in your life!”
After high school, I soon found college was not the path for me. I found out quickly that in the world of work I needed to advocate for myself. My favorite restaurant to eat at the time was Panera Bread. I loved their creamy tomato soup and bread! I fell in love with the idea and imagined myself working there. From that dream on, I did everything I could to let Panera realize how interested and passionate I was by making phone calls, and visits. My dream finally became a reality. I got the job! Panera Bread hired me for a special position, which they had to get Corporate’s approval for, instead of the original position I applied for. A few years later I started thinking about more of a career. The hospitality department at Life Time Fitness was on my heart. It took two years of written and in-person communication to get a job there.
Each job has increased my confidence to pursue a position with more responsibilities. Presently I am working in a corporate setting at WeCo Accessibility Services, reaching my full potential. This is my dream job! In addition, I am embarking on incredible internship with Finley's. My main responsibilities will be blog writing, advocacy awareness, helping with ambassador training and event planning. I’m feel extremely lucky to be working with Finley’s -- being able to share my story, and their mission, with others. I am also a huge dog lover, having grown up with dogs all my life.
I am so proud of where I am today in my career path. If I did not do the things I did, my life would be a lot different. If I can do it with having cerebral palsy, you can do it! My motto in life is to continue to persevere and advocate for myself. I am excited to see where my future takes me.