CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Tiffany Rivera turns heads when she lowers her welding helmet. First, they stare at her tiny frame -- 4-foot-9. Then they gawk at her welds, expert work for someone so young, her instructors say.
What they don't see are Tiffany's daily struggles with the lifelong effects of a rare and often crippling disease: The 32 surgeries, the catheter tucked behind her jeans pocket, the diagnosis that her bowels and bladder will never function properly.
Born with spina bifida, the 17-year-old high-school junior has overcome adversity to become a top high-school welder.