Laurie was born in 1956, diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of two, but eventually getting a correct diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2 at the age of 17. She used crutches and braces from the time she was diagnosed until she was five years old and then used a manual wheelchair until the week before her eighth grade graduation. She has used a power wheelchair ever since. Laurie graduated from high school with honors, attended Arizona State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in communication disorders and then went on to San Diego State University, earning a Master's degree in rehabilitative counseling. She also holds a clear professional teaching credential for elementary education. Laurie was unable to obtain employment until she was 45 years old, not for lack of qualifications, but solely due to discrimination. Once given the opportunity, her career was on the fast track. She worked for nine months as a program manager for an independent living center, prior to getting promoted to the Executive Director position for three years. She was then appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger to a deputy director position with the State Council on Developmental Disabilities for two years and then promoted to chief deputy director for the next three years with the same agency. Due to health complications, she retired from the demands of such a high powered position and has since become an award-winning published author, having written her memoir, "I Can Dance: My Life with a Disability." Laurie is married and the mother of two adult children with four grandsons. Her 34-year-old son is a construction contractor and her 30-year-old daughter is a sign language interpreter. Two of her grandsons are from her son and the other two are from her daughter. Laurie managed to live her life, give birth, raise her children and become successfully employed, all the while, living with a significant disability. As her memoir was not appropriate reading for young people, Laurie decided to take her middle school years; fifth through eighth grade and write a somewhat fictional story on her experiences. Laurie addresses going to school for the first time, the understanding and acceptance of her friends and neighbors, some of the challenges and barriers she encounters, bullying and maturity and other things she experiences as she navigates through those particular years of her life. This is Laurie's story of how she learned "Being Different is Okay!"