Highlighting the Royston resident's persevering and optimistic nature as well as her relationship with her daughter, Allyson, Vickery's story is featured in the May/June edition of Country Roads resource guide. Titled "One Amazing Mom," the article written by Susan Poole chronicles Vickery's life, from her childhood in Cartersville to present day.
According to the Country Roads feature, "Baby girl Elizabeth Vickery was born Sept. 7, 1969, in Royston with such severe birth defects she was not expected to live. But this gutsy little girl was not to be denied her chance to grow up, participate in sports, become well-educated, hold an important job and raise a daughter of her own.
"Her 16-year-old daughter Allyson says she wants 'everyone on this earth to see how strong' her mother is as she has overcome 30 surgeries, a botched [Caesarean] section and a lifetime of wearing braces and using crutches. ... Elizabeth was born with an extremely rare condition called arthrogryposis which affects muscles and joints and has no cure. Her legs were bowed in, her feet had no arches and she has club hands. Multiple surgeries have been done to straighten her legs, remove extra bones and correct her feet and she endured living in body casts for months at a time."
Raised in Cartersville, Vickery graduated from Cass High School in 1987. As a teenager, she served as the CHS cheerleading squad's mascot and was active in Beta Club, chorus and Special Olympics. She also was the March of Dimes' state poster child from 1980 to 1984.
"When I was born, the doctor told me I would never have children," Vickery said. "As a matter of fact, he also said I would never walk. I would never feed myself. I would never do anything but I fooled them all because I do everything. ... And the reason why -- when I was little I had a choice. There was people that were wanting me to go to a special school and my parents left it up to me.
"They said, 'Well, you can go to [school] and be normal with other kids or you can go to the special school with other people that are disabled.' I always wanted to go to regular school. I didn't want to be labeled as handicapped. I've always labeled myself as handicapable because if I can't do it, I'll tell you, 'I can't do it.' But I have to try it first. That's been my motto all my life."
When she was born, Vickery said there only was about four people that she was aware of who also were diagnosed with arthrogryposis, which is symbolized by a dark blue ribbon. Now through social media sites like Facebook, she is discovering others with the birth defect, some of whom live in the United Kingdom and Hawaii. By sharing her story, Vickery hopes to raise awareness about arthrogryposis and to provide hope to others living with the congenital disorder.
"They need to know that it's a deformity not a disease and that their outside is made different but their inside's the same and just not to ever give up and just keep trying," said Vickery, who has earned several college degrees, drives a vehicle with hand controls provided by General Motors, and currently is a homemaker and rescues parrots. "Maybe one day they'll be a [cure]. That's why I want to spread awareness because even doctors here, when I moved here [to Royston] they were like what is that? And I'm having to spell it for them and then tell them what it is.
"There just needs to be more research and maybe one day that one researcher can find a cure. ... I don't ever want people to think that I want to give up because I never will. And I don't want other people with arthrogryposis to think that they're less of a person because they are more. They can do more than what other people think they can."
To view the Country Roads article, visit www.countryroadsguide.com.