Despite being born with cerebral palsy, Brooke A. Larrabee, an Army Civilian employee with U.S. Army Forces Command, has received many awards during her 18 years of federal service.

However, Larrabee said those awards pale in comparison with the 2009 Aca,!A"Army Outstanding Employee of the Year with a Disability AwardAca,!A? she received Dec. 8 at a presentation ceremony in Bethesda, Md.

The purpose of the prestigious, annual, Armywide award, is to identify, recognize and publicize the achievements of outstanding employees with disabilities who have made significant contributions to the Army mission, resulting in opening employment opportunities for other people with disabilities.

Larrabee, a lead accountant within FORSCOMAca,!a,,cs G-8, Resource Integration Division, said it was humbling for her when she found out about the award.

Aca,!A"Overwhelmed, (I am) overwhelmed,Aca,!A? Larrabee said. Aca,!A"I honestly had forgotten that they had put me in for this award, and itAca,!a,,cs a shock.Aca,!A?

Her supervisor, Sandra Butler, G-8 branch chief, Fiscal Policy & Systems, Resource Integration Division, said she was surprised at Larrabee being selected for the award.

Aca,!A"I know we put together a very good package, and I knew she had an excellent chance. (However), the competition is tough, especially Armywide, so I was extremely happy that she got it,Aca,!A? Butler said. Aca,!A"She is a really hard worker Aca,!" a very, very hard worker Aca,!" and weAca,!a,,cre extremely proud of her.Aca,!A?

Butler said the significance of this award is Aca,!A"to show other individuals who have disabilities of all of the things that they can accomplish.Aca,!A?

Larrabee does more than just work hard in the office, said Butler.

She (Larrabee) excels Aca,!A"behind the scenes and in her personal life, at her church, and by supporting others with disabilities and (by) donating her time to (help them),Aca,!A? said Butler. Aca,!A"SheAca,!a,,cs just so well-rounded that she should be looked up to by more than just those with disabilities. I think that anybody (and) everybody should look up to her (because of) what she has accomplished in her young life.Aca,!A?

Larrabee has overcome much during her lifetime. She said she has not allowed her cerebral palsy to be an obstacle in her life.

Aca,!A"My parents raised me to work for what I want,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"Just because I have physical limitations, it doesnAca,!a,,ct stop me from doing whatever I want to do in life. I donAca,!a,,ct consider myself disabled. I think I can do whatever an able-bodied person can do.Aca,!A?

As evidence, Larrabee said she has been a member of the American Society of Military Comptrollers for 15 years.

As a member of this organization, she has led donation drives for Hurricane Katrina victims and volunteered her time to visit a local retirement home and interact with the residents.

She is also very active in her church, where she formed a womenAca,!a,,cs prayer group, teaches Sunday school and maintains her involvement with a disabilities ministry, which works with people of all ages and types of disabilities.

Larrabee said participating in these ministries makes her appreciate her life experiences more and allows her to influence and support others who have limitations, showing them that they can achieve anything they put their minds to.

Larrabee said she also enjoys traveling and immersing herself in different cultures. She has climbed the Acropolis in Greece, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, and has hiked up the side of a gorge in southern Germany. She said she has even climbed to the top of Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th-century Bavarian palace on a rugged hill near Hohenschwangau and FAfA1/4ssen, in southwest Bavaria, Germany.

She has been parasailing, snorkeling and jet-skiing in the Caribbean, visited the Mayan ruins in Belize and swam with dolphins in Honduras. Next on her travel agenda is zip-lining in the Caribbean.

Aca,!A"They have cables in the treetops in the jungle for rapid travel. You are attached to one in a harness,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"I havenAca,!a,,ct done it yet, but thatAca,!a,,cs what I want to do next.Aca,!A?

Then, she said, she wants to visit Japan. After completing her bachelorAca,!a,,cs degree in 1991 at Saint Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C., Larrabee began her federal service career in the finance and accounting office at Fort McPherson in 1991.

In 2000, she was selected into the DA GS-0510-5/7/9 intern program and reassigned to the U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters.

In December 2008, she was selected for a team lead position in the managerial accounting section, G-8, Resource Integration Division at FORSCOM headquarters.

Aca,!A"I love it, I love my job. IAca,!a,,cve had wonderful mentors for my career, and obviously it shows in what I do now, because I have to use what they taught me to lead my team,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm grateful to be where I am.Aca,!A?

As Larrabee continues her service to our country, she said she looks forward to one day becoming a public speaker to let others know they, too, can pursue their dreams, despite the challenges they may encounter in life.