By Joe Roberts @jrobertsjourno
Scroll down for the full story
Videographer / director: Gabriel Wegulo
Producer: Joe Roberts, James Thorne
Editor: Marcus Cooper
Valerie Lawrence, 36, was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, which stopped the oxygen from reaching her brain, causing her to develop spastic cerebral palsy.
Diagnosed at 17 months, she was told she would never drive, work a full-time job, and that having children would be almost impossible for her.
The licensed real-estate agent, based in Peoria, Arizona, told Barcroft TV: “I've always been really hard-headed and strong. I knew what I wanted in life and I made it happen.
“People said I would never be able to be a mother, drive, live on my own, be a wife, or be a real estate agent. I'm proving every single one of those people wrong.”
Though her disorder means her muscles are stiffer than normal, making movement difficult, Valerie is able to move around with the help of a scooter or crutches, and has built a fulfilling life for herself, despite the odds.
“I did face bullying as a child,” she said. “Kids made fun of me because I used a walker to get around and then I converted to crutches and a wheelchair. So they would make fun of me for being in a wheelchair.
“I learned how to drive in high school and I had to go to a special school to learn. But I drove with hand controls and they made fun of me for that. They said I shouldn't be driving.
“I did defend myself and say comments right back. But it doesn't take the pain away from being bullied as a child.”
On top of the bullying, Valerie has undergone numerous surgeries to help with her mobility, including a procedure on her spine at just 12 years old.
“They cut the nerves on my spine, stopping the spasticity,” she explained. “I was in intensive care for about two weeks with that surgery. I lost a lot of blood.”
But none of this has stopped Valerie, who left home at 18 and hasn’t looked back since, despite facing negativity even to this day.
“I’ve faced a lot of challenges,” she said. “If I'm out in public with my children, I don't know if it's negativity or curiosity, but I get a lot of stares, a lot of questions. We just keep going, we get through it.”
Valerie’s husband, Clement, who goes by ’Trey’, said: “She could do anything. She's the strongest woman I’ve ever met, she can do anything.”
The couple knew each other in high school, but didn’t get together until ten years after graduating, when Valerie contacted Trey on Facebook.
“I had trouble dating,” she said. “It's always in the back of my mind ‘are they embarrassed to take me out?’ Meeting somebody was never hard, it's just I always wondered what their intentions were.
“Trey actually is South African, so he went back to South Africa after high school. I was going through a trying time and I reached out to him about 10 years after high school.
“We went through the whole 90-day fiancée visa process and he came to the states 10 days after our son was born.”
The couple now have three children, Valentino, 11, Memphis, three, and, Charlie, two, with Valerie looking after the kids and taking care of their needs on a daily basis.
Trey said: “She is amazing. I tell her every day just how proud I am of what she's doing with her life. When we first started talking, she wasn't sure that she was able to do a lot of things that she's doing now.
“And right now she does literally everything: gets the kids ready in the morning, takes them to school while I'm working, goes to work. I'm really proud of her.”
Alongside being a wife, mother, and realtor, Valerie also takes time to share her adventures on YouTube on her channel ‘Surviving with CP’.
“I do it because I want other people to see that you can still have a life with Cerebral Palsy, it's not going to stop you.” Valerie explained.
“I have a lot of awesome feedback from other mothers with children with CP. Or just people with CP or young ladies.”
But even online, Valerie has encountered her share of negativity, with people criticising her for sharing her story.
“I did have some bullying online,” she said. “The guy said something about my husband not being my children's father because he's black.
“I got really upset. I was like ‘this is why I didn't want to go on YouTube because I didn't want to bring back some dark places where people are mean.
“They criticised my family for being biracial and me for being disabled, and said I should be focused on disability and not being on YouTube.
“But my husband said ‘you can’t let people get to you if you're going to do this, you have to be strong and just know that they have nothing better to do.’ So I got past it, but it was hard.”
It’s just another example of Valerie overcoming the odds, which she managed to do yet again by recently holding her first open house event where she showed prospective buyers around a property in Phoenix, Arizona.
Valerie’s boss, Chris, said: “Valerie is honestly one of the hardest-working people I've ever met. Obviously, she has some challenges that not everybody has to deal with, but she acts as if she doesn't have anything holding her back.
“She's an inspiration. We all look up to her because of how hard she works.”
Valerie is now focused on her children and the numerous projects she has in her life, having come so far since being told she’d never do any of it.
And while taking care of her family is her priority, she is also hoping to inspire others with her story: “For anybody that's struggling with CP, I want you to look at me and know anything you want in life is possible.
“It's not easy. You have to work at it every single day. But never ever give up on yourself. Don't give up on your life. You're beautiful, you're incredible, you're worth everything. Just never ever give up.”