Told in youth of all she would not do, a woman overcomes and excels

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AVON, Ind. (WTHR) - Something it seems we all have in common is facing certain struggles in our lives.

Some challenges are out of our control and hard to overcome. But there's a local woman showing us that anything's possible.

Despite being born with a big obstacle she's achieving her dreams.

Brenda Leake was born with cerebral palsy. It's a brain disorder developed during birth.

It affects your body's movements and muscle coordination. Doctors told Brenda all of the things she wouldn't be able to do as she got older. They said it was unlikely that she'd have children, drive a car or even graduate high school. Brenda proved the predictions wrong. She was determined, having two sons and learning how to drive.

"I'm not waiting on nobody to come and pick me up, I got things to do, I got places to go,” said Leake.

About 3 years ago, she drove to Goodwill in Avon, looking for a job, because to Brenda, despite her condition, she's no different than anyone else.

"To me, I'm normal, so when people tell me that I inspire them, it's crazy because I don't see what they see."

But Brenda saw something that changed her life. Simple but impactful: an information table for Goodwill's "Excel Center."

You see, one of Brenda's biggest "bucket list" items was graduating high school, and the free program through Goodwill would allow her to do that.

The program, essentially a public charter school, typically caters to people 18 to 24, but this is something Brenda couldn't do when she was younger. Her reason at age 50 is inspiring.

"To show my sons that um, if I can do it, they can accomplish anything they want to,” Leake said.

The road to earning her diploma wasn't easy. She suffers from short-term memory loss. She says she has to re-learn material over and over. Plus, her two sons made their Mom earn it on her own.

“They wouldn't help me do nothing because they told me that I didn't help them, so they weren't helping me but by them doing that that made me work even harder."

After 3 years of hard work, she did it. In January, Brenda earned her high school diploma through the Excel Center. She still had one more goal, though: to walk across the graduation stage. Unassisted.

And she did. The moment, for her, was incredible.

"I had waited for that to happen for so long. It was awesome."

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