Latese Ann DeVaughn was born, July 10, 1975, with a rare congenital brittle bone disease. A few days after her birth her parents were concerned with the excessive crying of their new baby. After an examination, by her pediatrician, it was discovered that Latese had bilateral femur fractures. After extensive testing she was diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, type 4, which is a congenital disease, meaning it is present at birth. (OI) is typically caused by a defect in the gene that produces type 1 collagen; an important building block of bone.
By the age of 1, Latese had experienced several fractures and was carried on a pillow in hopes of protecting her fragile bones. As a result of the many fractures and body casts her growth was stunted. At the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia she underwent surgery to place metal rods in both femurs and tibias. Latese was unable to walk and needed the use of a wheelchair.
At the age of six Latese attended elementary school at Widener Memorial School for children with physical disabilities. At Widener it was acceptable for her to crawl on the floor, and at that time in her life is where she was most comfortable.
Extensive physical therapy was prescribed with the focus on strengthening her upper body to compensate for the weakness in her legs. Soon the therapy included strengthening her lower extremities. The physical therapies lead to metal leg braces and crutches to aid her in learning to walk. This was no easy feat for someone who had spent their life crawling, being carried or using a wheelchair. With lots of determination Latese learned to walk with the aid of those devices. Crutches, leg braces and the ability to walk; that was a great accomplishment for this young child but, it would not end there for her. Another medical condition diagnosed as scoliosis. As her walking progressed so did the scoliosis. Due to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta she was not a candidate for surgery to correct the condition. The medication to manage the pain; kept her drowsy and unable to focus in school so home schooling became necessary.
At this time in her life; her mother moved out of state to pursue a job allowing her to afford the care Latese needed. Latese, determined to succeed, stayed in Philadelphia with relatives to attend high school. She worked hard on her studies, earned her high school diploma and graduated in 1996 with honors. After high school she attended the Community College of Philadelphia majoring in Respiratory Therapy. Latese, in time, realized that she would not be able to do the hands on portion; lifting patients and handling heavy equipment. Latese withdrew from that program and joined her mother in Maryland where she worked full time and attended Strayer University. Sadly, it was at this time that she lost her mother to pancreatic cancer.
Latese returned to Philadelphia.
She struggled by with temporary employment for a while. In 2005 she went to work as a customer service/data entry clerk for Blue Cross. Later that year both her father and her brother died. Her support system was gone.
Latese started a family of her own, a daughter, and in 2008, she had a son. Her son was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta; the same disease as Latese. For two years she devoted all her time to caring for her children.
In 2010, Latese was hired as a Driver’s License Technician at the West Oak Lane Photo License Center in Philadelphia. As a technician she soars with her natural skills of teamwork and leadership. Latese is often referred to by coworkers as “Momma” because of her nurturing ways. She is an excellent customer service representative and a breath of fresh air. She is capable, reliable, and always willing to extend a helping hand.
Ms. DeVaughn does not let her physical limitations keep her from reaching her goals. Today we honor this extraordinary, 36 year old mother of two, who has overcome enormous obstacles; where as many of us would have been defeated.