A life full of therapy. Full of doubts. Full of weird looks.

Elizabeth and Mark Bitton sat in the hospital bed preparing to deliver their first child, a baby girl. Running through their mind were the anxieties of a newly called parent. ‘Are we ready? Is she healthy? Do we have enough diapers?’

Contractions were becoming more regular. And with one final push, their baby was born. Only she was missing something. There was no cry.

Acting fast, the doctors administered CPR, and the Bittons stared at their blue-lipped baby girl, praying for a miracle.

Eventually, their baby took her first breath. The doctor released them from the hospital with a promise that their baby would be fine.

They took home their baby girl, and wrote the name Dorothea Bitton on her birth certificate, in honor of Elizabeth Bitton’s grandma. Little did they know, Dorothea means the “gift of God.”

For the next year, things were not fine. Dorothea Bitton was not maturing at the same rate as most babies in their first year. She was unable to walk despite the Bitton’s best efforts. Even resulting in placing candy at a high reach to encourage their baby to roll over and sit up.

The Bittons returned to the hospital and met with a doctor to inquire about their daughter, and they were approached with news that left Elizabeth sobbing and Mark dubious.

The doctor originally misdiagnosed Dorothea with a rare disease that predicted she wouldn’t live past 5 years old.

The Bittons didn’t believe the diagnosis and chose to disregard what the doctor had told them. Their daughter would walk.

For the next year and a half, Dorothea Bitton remained unsteady, and she fell a lot. One day she received her first baby doll.

Bitton gives advice to not talk to her using a "baby voice"

Bitton gives advice to not talk to her using a "baby voice." Photo credit: Dakotah Barclay

With her big blue eyes, she began to observe her mother push a stroller for her baby cousins and her younger brother who had just been born. She wanted to do the same thing with her own baby doll. Her parents got her a stroller to go with her baby doll.

At a little over two-years-old Dorothea Bitton took her first steps. She walked.

When she was five, her parents had two other children, Carson and Jenna. They wanted to celebrate their wedding anniversary on a budget, which meant going out for a family dinner. While waiting to be seated, a man with the Shriner Hospital in Salt Lake City, a non-profit organization that helps families with healthcare, approached them.

“We can help your daughter,” the man said.

The Bittons met with a neurologist at the hospital as soon as possible and within the first five minutes of meeting, the doctor told them Dorothea Bitton had Cerebral palsy.

Five years of questions were answered within five minutes. And with that diagnosis came immediate barriers, starting with the words, “She will not…”

“I took one look at her and I was like, ‘You’re gonna ride a bike.’ I know, my girl. She is the hardest working, most determined person,” Elizabeth Bitton said.

Every day after school, her mother would practice with her. And within a month, she was riding a bike. Barriers were shattered. She would walk. She would talk. She would defy the odds. And she did.

Dorothea Bitton is now 22-years-old. She studies Exercise Physiology and wants to devote her life to helping others by becoming a Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist.

“I have prayed to be more normal. But if we are being honest, there is no normal in this world. We are all unique,” Dorothea Bitton said.

She runs. She writes. She has served an 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She struggles like every other person.

Students do exercise to mimic the difficulty an individual with CP has learning to grip

Students do exercise to mimic the difficulty an individual with Cerebral palsy has learning to grip Photo credit: Dakotah Barclay

“Some days are really hard. I want nothing to do with anything: faith, schooling, CP,” Dorothea Bitton said.

Through the years, Dorothea Bitton observed how people change when they interact with her.

In her junior year of high school, she sat with her mom and teachers to discuss her needs as a student. After repeatedly being called “disabled,” her mother interjected and corrected the teacher.

“She’s not disabled, and I don’t want her carrying that around with her the rest of her life,” Elizabeth Bitton said. “She can do anything she wants to, and that’s the label I want her to carry around.”

As Dorothea Bitton has grown, she has become more comfortable with who she is and welcomes any questions people may have about Cerebral palsy.

As long as they are not inquired by someone using a voice similar to those used on infants, she adds.