SALT LAKE CITY -- Sharon Ross is starting to like the taste of sawdust.
The Brigham City resident has been carving items by hand for three years. Her work is so admired, she was asked by the Utah Vocational Rehabilitation Center to make U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch a wooden plaque to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act and Hatch's role in getting the law passed.
Ross presented the carving to Hatch on Thursday afternoon at the Division for the Blind offices in Salt Lake City.
"This special honor for Senator Hatch has got to be the best and most exciting thing in my life, next to marrying my husband and giving birth to our children," Ross said.
"In celebrating this tremendous milestone, Sharon Ross has made it even more special with the presentation of her beautiful work," Hatch said. "I sincerely appreciate the effort she made to help all of us honor the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, legislation that has represented new hope and opportunity for millions across America."
Ross, who was born with cerebral palsy 68 years ago, began her carving career three years ago after being trained through Vocational Rehabilitation at Profitable Hobbies in Benjamin, Utah. She now runs her own business, Sharon Ross Studios, inside her home, where she carves wood, glass, egg shells, knives and more. Because of her talent, she has now been commissioned to hand carve 60 plaques for the Vocational Rehabilitation awards this October.
"This is a big job, and I am carving my heart out right now," she said. "It's hard, tedious work, but it's made by me right here in the U.S.A., in Brigham City, Utah. No one else will have the same piece, because it's unique only to me."
Ross uses a special high-speed hand drill to make her pieces. She said the drill is much like a dental drill and is designed especially for detailed carving.
Ross copes with cerebral palsy, a general term for a group of disorders that affect coordination and body movements.
"I'm a survivor. My mom is a great lady. She is my hero. My father committed suicide and left me a letter saying he was disappointed that I never walked," Ross said. "Actually, I am proud of my accomplishments."
Ross was a teacher for 20 years in the Uintah School District as was her husband, Wes, who she calls "The Wind Beneath My Wings."
"He must do everything for me. Bathe me, dress me, cook for me, clean house and laundry," she said. "He's a special gift from God to me. I am blessed by his loyalty and love."
The couple, married for 49 years, has two children, 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
They also have been foster parents for 16 children. Ross also has a service dog, a Jack Russell named Betty Boop.
Ross said while she deals with her disability on a daily basis, the secret of her success is to never give up.
"Everyone has stressful days. Everyone has limitations. There's always a new day. Everything looks better in the morning. I promise," she said.
If you would like Ross to make a carving, call her at 435-723-1040.