PHOENIX -- It's not every day a 12-year-old gets a standing ovation from the Arizona Legislature. But this week, Phoenix's Shelby Valint did, as Governor Jan Brewer's special guest at her 2013 State of the State. Her presence was meant to send a message - that lives can be saved and changed through a groundbreaking Arizona non-profit.
"Shelby spent 10 years of her life in a wheelchair unable to speak," said Shelby's mother Renee.
She says Shelby's physical development seemed to stall, and after years of tests, there were no answers. Until they came to TGEN, or the Translational Genomics Research Institute, a bio-tech lab in Phoenix where doctors mapped her genome and found the problem.
"We were able to identify some changes in her genetics that suggested a malfunction in dopamine," said Dr. David Craig who worked Shelby's case. "There are ways to help manage and that's where we were able to get to. To a place where we can help manage rather than a place or rapid decline."
Shelby's now an actual walking miracle strutting her stuff in her first pair of heels. She hasn't used a wheelchair since March of 2011, and she's happy.
"I mean I still have challenges but a lot of those challenges have been lifted off my shoulders," said Shelby.
By making appearances, and sharing her story, she hopes TGEN will continue to receive financial support from the State and Federal Government. In tight budget times, there's always concern, but there are thousands of others across the country like Shelby, for whom an Arizona institute could mean a second chance at life.
"I really think people should pay more attention to it, because there's a ton of people like me," said Shelby.
For more on TGEN, you can visit its website www.tgen.org.