BETHANY — Lauren Smith, 9, is accustomed to a doctor's office.
The soft-spoken fourth grader from Moore has overcome many obstacles in her young life.
Born with cerebral palsy, she has spent many days, holidays even, recovering from surgery. However, through all the pain, she has gained a new confidence, with help from The Children's Center in Bethany.
It is a beautiful, sunny afternoon. Lauren is waiting with her mother inside the outpatient clinic at The Children's Center. She is proudly showing off her new accessories.
“Whoa, did I just win this?” Lauren asks as she holds up a blue and yellow sash that reads “Little Miss Wheelchair of Oklahoma.” A crown sits on top of her short, blonde hair. Lauren was crowned “Little Miss Wheelchair of Oklahoma” during a pageant held recently in Oklahoma City.
Lauren's appointment is a follow-up to surgery in December to straighten her legs. While the surgery took place at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Shreveport, she did her rehabilitation at The Children's Center.
“After each surgery, Lauren would come to The Children's Center for rehabilitation,” said Tamara Smith, Lauren's mother.
Dr. Justin Ramsey remembers Lauren making quite an impression during her most recent stay. “Lauren knows her history well and she also has a fun personality. So, I am not surprised she won.”
In addition to physical and occupational therapies, Lauren has become a natural in front of the camera and is always willing to share her story to encourage her fellow patients.
“At The Children's Center, I learned about other children with disabilities. I know that I can relate to them,” she said.
Life will certainly not slow down for Lauren as Little Miss Wheelchair Oklahoma.
She is scheduled to visit with Gov. Mary Fallin at the state Capitol, as well as promote educational resources available to other children.
“Lauren will attend various events to raise awareness about living with disabilities,” her mother said.
Confident as always, Lauren will proudly carry the torch for all children with disabilities in Oklahoma.
After wrapping up her most recent doctor's visit, Lauren got to work snapping a photo with her new friend, Beau McKenna, a fellow patient at the hospital. He's just one of the many new friends she will meet along the way.
“I can also help people who are not disabled to understand not to treat us differently and to help. I can help the whole community.”
Travis Doussette is director of communications for The Children's Center.