“Standing Tall,” Ensign, Apr. 1996, 68
In the back of her mind, Dawnne Casey believes she will walk again someday. “But that isn’t as significant to me anymore,” she says, sitting in the office where she works as a technical assistant for the Provo, Utah, school district’s special programs for the disabled.
Using a wheelchair since age thirteen, Dawnne says that what is important to her now is getting the most out of each day. Not only does she help children through her day job, but she serves adults as well at an intermediate care facility where she works at night. She also serves as chairperson of a Utah state board of education advisory committee for students with disabilities and as Relief Society secretary in the Springville Utah Stake.
“She’s one of the busiest people I know,” says Jana Bliss, a school psychologist who has worked with Dawnne for the past ten years. “She’s also one of the most optimistic.”
A native of New Jersey, Dawnne says she learned optimism from her brother Michael, who was born with a deformed left arm. “Actually,” says Mike, “we both fed off the positive attitude of each other.” Mike was determined not to let anything stop him from participating in athletics. Fitted with an artificial arm, he played Little League baseball and football and received most valuable player honors three times. Later, he threw the javelin for Brigham Young University’s track team. Dawnne and Michael also have a brother who lost a leg at age thirteen.
Nadine Casey of Gibbsboro, New Jersey, says that positive attitude helped prevent her children’s disabilities from getting the best of them. “They were born with determination,” she says. Dawnne credits her parents for making certain she received psychological and spiritual rehabilitation as well as physical rehabilitation after she was paralyzed.
“The children at school love Dawnne because of her empathy and her understanding of their problems,” says Jana Bliss. “She makes others feel good about themselves. She is one of the strongest women I know. I no longer see her as a person in a wheelchair—I see her as a tall, strong woman.”—Alf Pratte, Provo, Utah