A Dream Fulfilled With Hard Work

Valerie is The 2012 California Amateur Bodybuilding Association (ABA) Champion in the Women's Physically Challenged Class.   She is also affected with keratitis ichthyosis deafness syndrome (KID syndrome).

Valerie’s childhood was difficult.  Her disorder was at its worst, her family was emotionally dysfunctional, she was teased often, and did not receive much support to help her.  She is legally blind, uses a hearing aid, and manages her skin as well as she can.  When she looks back, she knows that her family did the best that they could with the resources available at the time.

She developed a relationship with University of California San Francisco Department of Dermatology and spent much time with doctors studying her condition and determining treatment options.

In her early thirties, Valerie was introduced to an aesthetician who worked wonders for her.  She ultimately met a wonderful man and they are happily married.

Valerie had an interest in body building throughout her life.  Her friend, Bob, had become a bodybuilder.  When Bob became a trainer, he encouraged Valerie to get involved and mentioned that there was a Physically Challenged category.  Her training began at the end of February 2012.

A couple of weeks after her 44th birthday, she began her preparations to compete in Natural Bodybuilding.  She competed at two events recently in the physically challenged category.  Over the summer, Valerie trained at the gym just about every day for four hours a day to get ready for a contest in Windsor, California in August. She did so well that her trainer wanted her to participate in a September contest in San Rafael, California. After that contest, she received a note from her friend and trainer, Bob, that read "Hey there, Gold-medal Champion!”

Following that event, Denny Kakos, the INBA International President, thought so highly of Valerie’s posing, that he offered her an official invitation to the Natural Olympia contest held in Reno, Nevada in November.  He also asked her to compete in the World Championships in Greece in July 2013.

While Valerie opted to wait to participate in the National Olympia contest until she feels more prepared, she is continuing her training.  The high recognition that she received did wonders for Valerie’s confidence and she is considering ways to help promote awareness about ichthyosis and FIRST as she participates in these competitions.

She states that she is “so blessed to have this opportunity to go on stage.”  She always wanted to do this, but couldn't because the sport is demanding when it comes to symmetry, as it should be.  Learning about the Physically Challenged category has “opened a new world” for her. Given the challenges that Valerie faces dealing with her ichthyosis, she is “so thankful for this window of good health and [is] taking advantage of it while I can. This hobby is a day to day thing, but I want to do it for as long as I can.”

Valerie’s participation in the sport of body building is the culmination of a lifetime of becoming confident with whom she is.  She overcame many obstacles, and recognizes that her self esteem does not hinge on how well she competes.

Valerie is in inspiration to everyone.  With hard work, determination, and a positive attitude, you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to.

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Neither FIRST, its Board of Directors, Medical & Scientific Advisory Board, Board of Medical Editors, nor Foundation staff and officals endorse any treatments listed here.  All issues pertaining to the care of patients with ichthyosis should be discussed with a dermatologist experienced in the treatment of their skin disorder.

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