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From Her Wheelchair, She Sees Few Limits

September 05, 1998|JASON KANDEL

Shirley Davis has managed to carry on a fairly normal life despite living with bones so fragile she could break her leg with a mere twist.

She went to every dance at Buena Park High School. She fell in love and got married. She raised two children. She's helping raise a grandchild. She goes to college. And she counsels children at Juvenile Hall.

From her wheelchair, there really isn't anything Davis, 52, won't do.

"I'm not the medical book patient they think I should be," she said.

For her work with young people, Davis' heath maintenance organization, Universal Care, presented her Friday with its Triumph of the Human Spirit Award at a Santa Ana medical office.

"I love to work with kids," she said. "They're people that have not already formed an opinion. You can teach them that disabled people can do the same things as other people. I believe there's something good in each kid, and I grab that and work on it."

Davis, of Huntington Beach, inherited osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease that affects about one in 12,000 people. The bones in people with the disease lose mass and become brittle. Davis says she has broken about 60 bones throughout her life.

Universal Care established the award to recognize people who have been inspirational despite challenging medical conditions.

Her husband of 32 years, Ray, 58, accompanies her wherever she needs to go. He is a full-time student at Coastline Community College studying computer science.

Davis is working on a certificate in criminal justice at Golden West College and hopes to become a probation officer for Juvenile Hall.

"The challenges she faces every day are an inspiration not only to the juvenile offenders . . . but to everyone here at the clinic and to the many people she encounters on a daily basis," said her physician, John Polston. "She is a lot braver person than I'll ever be."

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