BILLINGS, Mont. — Keyara Ott wants to be 5 feet tall when she grows up.
She also wants to be a veterinarian.
And she wants to walk in school — for the entire day.
And she has no doubt she will.
She also has wanted to do handstands and pushups, too. And by golly, she has.
All without legs.
Ott, a sixth-grader at Newman Elementary in Billings, was born with spina bifida, the most common, permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. Spina bifida literally means "split spine." As a result, Ott's legs were webbed together.
When the webbing became too painful, Ott decided to have her legs amputated. Her surgery was June 13. Since then, she has been learning to walk for the first time, with the aid of prosthetics.
Ann and Fred Ott adopted Keyara and her 7-year-old sister, Ella, in April 2011. Ella suffers from brain damage.
The couple permitted Keyara to make her own choice about having her legs removed. They supported her in that decision.
"You damn right I did," Ann Ott said.
Keyara, who earns high marks in school, is described as "dynamic," ''awesome," and "typical," according to her mother.
"When you don't look at her disabilities, she is a typical 12-year-old," Ann said with a smile. "She knows how to push my buttons."
Keyara is working twice weekly with Jakke Hall, a pediatric therapist at St. Vincent Healthcare. She also receives therapy once a week at school.
As Keyara navigates the world ahead of her, her mother has given her only one set of marching orders: "It's OK to be different."
Every day, about eight babies born in the United States have spina bifida or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine, according to the Spina Bifida Association.
No one is certain, but scientists believe that genetic and environmental factors act together to cause the condition.
Information from: Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com