Get To Know Our Founder and President: Brianna Williams
Soaring Beyond Our Limit, Inc. was founded by Brianna in Royal Palm Beach, FL. In her words:
"Three days after I was born, I needed open heart surgery. With the prayers of family and friends, I successfully made it through my six-hour surgery. At the age of three, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and my doctor said I would never be able to walk, talk, or do anything my peers were able to do. At the ripe old age of three-and-a-half, I got my first power wheelchair. I left many trampled toes and scuffed up furniture in my wake learning to use it. My family might tell you that I still leave scuffed up walls around. At the age of 4 I learned that I made a difference in the lives of my peers.
In the first grade, I was introduced to adaptive technology that helped me keep up with my nondisabled classmates. When I was eight years old, my mother registered me for a sleep away camp. It was such a fun experience! I learned a lot and did so many interesting things. I met multitudes of new and exciting people and we went on lots of different trips to many interesting places, such as a farm, bowling alley, planetarium, and aquarium. I cried because I was not ready to go home. The next year I could not wait to go back to camp.
In December of 2003, I had a seizure that changed a lot of things in my life. For example, I lost my independence because people thought I could have a seizure anytime, so no one wanted to leave me alone. People also treated me like I was a baby. As the years went by, I got better and never had a seizure again. The doctors even took me off my medicine, but I still feel as if I am treated like a baby sometimes because everyone does not take the time to get to know me.
During summer camp at the age of twelve, I realized that people who cannot speak like to be spoken to. I learned that just because someone cannot speak, doesn’t mean that he or she cannot listen and respond to what is being said using an alternate form of communication.
All through elementary school, my peers treated me like I was one of them. It wasn’t until I reached the 6th grade, that I realized that I was “disabled.” My teacher and my paraprofessional (para) decided that I should be in a classroom with all other disabled students because I could not write by myself. They decided to judge me by my disability. It was at this time that I began to feel different from the rest of the children.
For 7th grade, I was accepted into a school only for kids with special needs. This may sound weird, but at first I was scared of other people who were disabled, so I did not want to attend. After I went and visited the school, I realized it was not what I thought. All the kids were pretty much independent.
This school changed my life completely. This school taught me that there are many things I can do by myself and I don’t have to rely on others to help me all the time. I saw how other students, who were more physically disabled than I, could function with what they had. For example, I saw a boy use his feet to drive a wheelchair and shoot a basketball. I was just so amazed! I said to myself, "If he can do that, imagine what I can do!"
This is when I realized that my desire in life is to work with special needs children. Now, I am in college preparing to become an ESE teacher.
Recently, I reflected on my life and I realized that there wasn’t a lot of social support for me as I was growing up. I had my immediate family to talk to me, but I didn’t really have any friends that I could talk to outside of school. I also found that I was lonely sometimes. I had a lot of people look at me and based upon my disability say, “How did she do this?” or “She’ll never be able to do that.”
Sometimes I even found myself wondering these things about other people. So, I started this organization, Soaring Beyond Our Limits, Inc., with the purpose of getting people to see that we can do it.
We can do whatever we set our minds to do! We can soar beyond the limits that we and others have placed upon us! I want this to be the foundation of a community that supports each other as we grow and soar into our future.”