Laurel Burns' Bio

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Laurel Burns

Born without arms to a mother who struggled with addiction, Laurel Burns overcame all odds. As a child, her father and step-mother encouraged her independence which helped her become the strong woman she is today. She shares, “With the guidance of family and support from school, I learned to adapt to just about any situation by using my feet.”

After graduating from high school in Madison, Wisconsin, Laurel’s participation in the Rotary Foreign Exchange program gave her the opportunity to live in Brazil for a year. While abroad, she became fluent in Portuguese and made life-long friends.

Due to her great dexterity and ability to think outside the box, Laurel is able to drive a car, cook, fish, draw, paint, and do just about everything anyone else can-- but with her feet.

In 2009, Laurel became a mother for the first time. Everyone was apprehensive about how she would approach the physical challenges of motherhood, but with determination and love, Laurel astonished them with her own ways of handling her new child. She had unique challenges, and she faced them head on. In 2011, she welcomed her second child into the world, and was more confident than ever. Shortly afterward, however, becoming a single mother would prove to be her greatest challenge.

Laurel has been a single mother to her two sons for many years, and handles her circumstances with a strong willingness to succeed. She recalls, "There were times where I wanted to give up, but then I remembered who was watching."

In spite of juggling single motherhood and a physical disability, Laurel is currently a full-time student at Western Technical College where she is enrolled in the Medical Administration program. She is an exceptional student, having earned multiple invitations to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and earning the schools highest honor— placed on the President’s List of High Distinction.

Upon graduating from the program in 2018, Laurel plans to work as a Medical Office Coordinator for Tomah Memorial Hospital. She inspires everyone she meets and always greets people with a smile. 


Laurel and her sons have moved into their brand new custom home! Visit to view their journey to home ownership.

View Laurel's artwork here.