Abby Scott, our cover child, likes horseback riding, playing soccer, riding her bike and playing with her cousins, friends and fellow Brownies.
The 7-year-old Chicago girl also happens to have cerebral palsy and a smile that can warm the coldest heart.
Her mom, Denise, is a special education teacher who says she thought her training would give their family an advantage in teaching Abby what she "needs to know" to get along. Instead, she was in for a surprise.
"What I quickly realized was that Abby is the teacher and we are better off because of the many lessons she has taught us," Denise says.
Lesson 1: You cannot control everything.
"This was a tough one for me. As soon as Abby was born, I realized that we were no longer in control. There was a beautiful baby who was depending on us and agendas were out the window. We quickly learned that you have to work closely with doctors and therapists to get the best care possible. Your entire focus changes as you try to decide what is best."
Lesson 2: Never take anything for granted.
"She has helped us realize that you should celebrate all accomplishments, large or small. Abby does everything in her own time and with a tremendous amount of effort."
Lesson 3: Most people are inherently kind.
"Abby radiates happiness and it is contagious. I cannot even begin to count how many times someone has approached me and said that she is so sweet and happy. As her parents, our main priority is her happiness so such positive reinforcement from strangers reaffirms that we are doing something right. There are days you need that! We also have been blessed that there are so many people who help make her happy daily. Family, friends, coworkers, teachers, therapists, doctors, neighbors, coaches, and other parents are a constant reminder that people are kind and want to help.
"I am frequently touched and humbled by the extent that people are willing to go above and beyond for Abby."
Lesson 4: Patience.
"Nothing changes overnight and there are many days when you want to throw in the towel. There are many frustrating components of raising a child with a disability. I cannot even begin to add up how many hours I have spent making phone calls, driving to appointments, and questioning myself about why we are literally exhausting ourselves trying to squeeze everything in. Fortunately, it seems as though whenever I get to the breaking point, something or someone gives me the encouragement to keep fighting for my girl."
Lesson 5: Perseverance and unconditional love.
"Abby endures a schedule that would be taxing for most adults. However, she does it happily and with a smile (as long as there are no shots). ... She loves life and puts her whole heart into everything she does."