UPDATE: Tania Finlayson is the winner of Q13's Remarkable Women contest! She will be representing our region at The Mel Robbins Show in New York City.
KIRKLAND, Wash. -- As we get ready to celebrate International Women's Month in March, Q13 News is proud to celebrate local women who inspire and forge ahead for other women.
For four weeks, we're featuring local "remarkable women," and one of these women will be chosen to represent our region in a nationwide celebration in New York City.
Tania Finlayson always dreamed of a life that was "ordinary."
“After I was born, a few doctors told my parents, I would not amount to anything and would cause great distress to the family. They suggested my parents put me in an institution," she recalled.
Finlayson was born with a dazzling smile, as well as cerebral palsy.
She's smart as can be, but unable to talk, walk on her own or use her hands in a way that the rest of us rely on.
"At many times in my life, I know that people would look at me and just see the disability and see the limitations," she says.
So Tania took on life with no fear, and through skydiving she found more than just an adrenaline rush.
"I met the love of my life through skydiving," she says. "And look where we ended up. We've been together for 21 years."
Her husband Ken says people tell him he's "doing a wonderful thing to help her."
"They don’t see the less tangible things she does to help me in my life," he says.
They also don't see all she's done to help others, like the time Tania drove her chin-controlled wheelchair 300 miles to raise more than $40,000. Why? To buy a guide dog for a man she's never met.
Using her head, she's helped many, many more.
Tania taps morse code -- dots and dashes -- into switches near her head. She personally helped to develop the technology that's given her a voice.
"I think that every wall that is placed before me makes me appreciate so much more the things I can do," she says.
Google learned about her morse code skills, and partnered with Tania to bring morse code to its keyboard for smartphones, allowing people around the world with similar challenges to communicate.
"The potential to help people with disabilities similar to mine is immeasurable," she says.
But ask Tania about her greatest achievement, and it was the moment she dreamed of her entire life -- the birth of her son Michael.
Michael is now 13 years old. He'll proudly tell you that his mom is his role model.
"I’m just like, what would my mother do in this situation? How would she push through and strive to accomplish her goal? And I just think of her attitude and more often than not, I’ll get it done," Michael explains.
Tania has traveled around the world and is planning a trip to India to help people there with disabilities overcome their challenges.
It's the legacy of a woman who just wanted to be ordinary, and in that pursuit became extraordinary.