Spina bifida is a serious cognitive birth defect that has been traced to a variety of causes, from lack of folic acid during pregnancy to mercury emissions from mining practices. While it often leads to a reduced quality of life, that does not always have to be the case; some people with the condition still manage to do the things that they love. One such person is Rebecca Shumaker of Texas, who has not let spina bifida keep her from raising bulls for rodeo riding.
At present, Shumaker is unable to dress herself or to get into a vehicle without help -- but she has helped raise 30 bulls, cows, and calves for the past 10 years. Shumaker got the inspiration from watching the professional riding events on television when she was seven years old. There was ample space for raising cattle on her parents' ranch, which holds 200 beef cattle in addition to Shumaker's animals. Until recently, Shumaker took it upon herself to feed her cattle every day, and some are almost big enough to weigh one ton. Her bulls have competed in rodeo events across the country, with a few even making it to the Professional Bull Riders event -- a major achievement. Nonetheless, Shumaker does not believe that she can make a living off of her passion. The 17-year old has instead set her sights on a career in the medical field, with perhaps a bull-raising business on the side.
It is encouraging to hear stories about people who can follow their passions despite health conditions that would hold them back. Spina bifida has been known to cause a wide range of serious health problems, including leg paralysis, bladder and bowel control problems, and cognitive problems that can lead to learning disabilities. Yet while some living with the condition are fortunate to have the help of friends, family, and community, others must struggle alone, often incurring large medical bills in the process.
If your child has spina bifida and you believe that the cause was not due to your lifestyle while pregnant -- such as smoking or not taking folic acid -- but due to an external source, you might want to consider filing a lawsuit against the offender. If you believe that the offender is, for instance, a coal-burning power plant, you could file a toxic tort lawsuit against it. You would have to ensure that there was strong evidence linking the offender to your child's birth defect, or the other party might argue that it was not responsible. Some factors to consider would be the location of the power plant, how frequently you were exposed to its emissions and for how long, and whether others in your area are also giving birth to babies with birth defects. You could also obtain expert testimony that would establish a link between the two.