Jenny Leazer was only 17 weeks pregnant when she and her husband, Jason, found out their son had spina bifida, a condition in which the backbone and spinal cord do not fully develop before birth, and hydrocephalus, an accumulation of fluid around the brain. The Leazers received more devastating news - they were told their son would not be able to walk.
On Nov. 6, 1997, Jenny and Jason's son, Sheldon arrived at Iowa Methodist Medical Center and spent his first seven days in Blank Children's Hospital NICU. But, despite his challenges, he has overcome so much and become an inspiration to many.
Sheldon's determined attitude developed early on. Being told he would not walk was not an option for him.
"When he was 2-years old, his physical therapist was trying to get him to walk with a walker," Jenny said. "He looked at Jason and me and said, 'I will walk when I can without this thing!' Sure enough, he did."
But it was not an easy road for Sheldon. He endured eight surgeries before he turned 10 along with countless hours of occupational and physical therapy.
"The most difficult thing is watching your child have to go through surgeries, countless doctor's appointments and therapies," Jenny said. "Sheldon has been through more in 13 years than most of us have to experience in a lifetime. As a parent, you would do anything to be able to take the place of your child."
Sheldon's last surgery was in 2004, and he does use a wheelchair; however, Sheldon beat the odds and runs and walks every day because of his positive attitude and perseverance.
"Sheldon has a fantastic outlook on life," Jenny said. "We have always stressed the importance of being thankful for what you have and what you can do because there is always someone, somewhere who is much less fortunate."