A girl with determination
As a very young girl, Carroll fit in with other children, including her foster family.
“She was accepted by them, and they love her,” said Jennie Byars, Carroll’s foster mother, who became her legal guardian in 1997. Byars had four children naturally, has adopted several and has even more that refer to her as “mom,” including Carroll.
“I didn’t want her when they first called me,” Byars said. “Then I thought, ‘Why am I doing this if I can’t help the ones that really need it?’ When they brought her to me (when Carroll was 16 months old), I saw a handicapped child. But then I saw a girl with a lot of determination. She bonded with us quickly. After a couple of weeks, I didn’t see her as handicapped.”
Byars and her late husband, Slim, encouraged Carroll’s independence from an early age.
“I tried to let her do what she could,” Byars said. “They wanted to give her a walker, and I said, ‘No. She doesn’t need one.’ They wanted to give her a board to talk for her, but I wouldn’t let them. We treated her like one of the kids. I tried not to limit her. You have a tendency to want to coddle her, but she didn’t want you helping her.”
Byars spent many hours taking Carroll to physical therapy and working with her to make sure she could walk and talk and live a normal life. Byars believed in her daughter, pushed her where she needed to be pushed, and comforted her when she needed to be comforted.
“Her therapist said she was stubborn, but I said she was determined,” she said. “If she hadn’t been determined, she wouldn’t be where she is now.”
As a child, Carroll could only walk on flat surfaces, not inclines. But she used a mulch pile to learn to walk on an incline.
“She was determined, struggled, but she climbed that mountain — in more ways than one,” said family friend Nancy Reynolds.
Carroll says many things in her life have been hard.
“But it could be worse,” she said. “It’s hard talking, but when people get to know me, they understand me better.”
She can’t even pull her hair back in a ponytail because she doesn’t have full use of her right hand.
She knows she’s made it as far as she has because of the support from her foster parents.
“They’ve been there for me,” Carroll said. “I’m lucky to have them.”