This Arizona family won’t let DNA, stature, brittle bones or wheelchairs get in the way of living.
Clockwise from top left: Richard Alexander, Johl Driscoll, Jacob Driscoll, a dog Riauna rescued, Riauna Driscoll, Jeena Driscoll, Spirit and Lauri Alexander.
Photo courtesy Lauri Alexander
If Lauri Alexander could stand, she would be about 3’9” tall. But she can’t stand without support, and she can’t walk. She’s 49 now, with graying, sandy brown hair that reaches down her back. Her direct green eyes are set behind wire-framed oval glasses. Motherhood, brittle bone disease and congestive heart failure have taken their toll on her fragile body.
She was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as OI or brittle bone disease. It renders the bones so frail they snap like twigs, affects stature and causes walking problems.
But Lauri always yearned to be a mother to both biological and adopted children, so against medical advice and the strong possibility of passing on her damaged DNA, she bore two children and adopted two more. Despite her disabilities, she took on seemingly impossible personal, medical and societal challenges to become a mother.
A girl sits on a couch, laughing and smiling frequently. Her colorful, bright dress matches her vibrant personality. A black Labrador, Olivia, is sprawled on the carpet contentedly. She’s never too far away from her owner, criminal justice sophomore Katherine Chavez.
In conversation, Katherine has a peculiar tendency to look above the head of whomever she’s speaking with, like she expects the person to be taller than he or she really is. It’s a rough subject to bring up, as if calling attention to the elephant in the room. But why does she do that?
Late on the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 10, 2008, when Adam Groener finished work at his customer service job with RockAuto on Odana Road, he got on his motorcycle, put on his helmet and punched up the band Apartment 26 on his MP3 player.