Diagnosed at birth with osteogenesis imperfecta, Lauren Davidson spent most of her young life in and out of surgery.
At just 17 months old, she underwent the first of 15 surgeries at HSS with Leon Root, MD, an operation that involved inserting steel rods into her legs. As Lauren grew, the rods were replaced with longer ones that enabled her to walk without braces.
Encouraged to swim as a way to strengthen her bones and muscles, she became the first disabled student-athlete to swim for the University of Illinois. In 2000, Lauren represented the U.S. at the Paralympic Games in Australia, where she set a new world record in the 400-Meter Freestyle and received one gold medal and two silver medals.
Today, Lauren enjoys recreational swimming. Having earned a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Kean University, she now works as a speech-language pathologist at The Cerebral Palsy League, Inc., in New Jersey.
“Dr. Root always encouraged me to follow my dreams,” she says. “He helped me believe that there was nothing in this world that I couldn’t conquer.” Lauren recently came back to help celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the HSS Pediatric Outreach Program. Founded by Dr. Root, the program was renamed in his honor at the ceremony.