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I’m Not 'Less Fortunate' or a 'Great Inspiration.' I’m Me.

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Dear Cerebral Palsy,

I don’t know life without you, and some people pity me because of you. They shouldn’t. I believe that I am God’s creation, fearfully and wonderfully made. I think he does not make mistakes, and he created me with you a part of me. A part of me, but not who I am, and that’s an important distinction.

You cause me problems and frustrations, to be sure, but nothing that should cause me to despair. I have been asked if I walk in my dreams, and the answer is no. Perhaps that is because I’ve never known another reality, but I’m OK with that.

It wasn’t always that way. But as you and I have grown up together, I believe that God has shown me that you are a gift to me that I can use to bless and serve others. You’ve given me limitations that prevent me from putting my own shoes on, shaving independently, and driving, but you’ve also given me the perspective to see the world from a different angle.

You’ve given me a richness of experiences that leads me to appreciate the fact that I can go to the bathroom without assistance, and that I have not been affected by the diminished learning capacities that are reality for many others who have my disability. I am blessed by your presence, not cursed.

I am on the left, calling play-by-play at a basketball game for the campus TV station at UW-Whitewater in 2006.

Because the able-bodied world puts labels on us, I have been considered everything from someone who is among life’s less fortunate to someone who is a great inspiration. The former label does not merit a serious answer and the latter is considerably above my pay grade. This is how I really think of myself: I’m someone who is simply doing what adults his age do by trying to make a living and enjoy the people in his life. If people are inspired by my responses to the challenges you pose, more power to them. But I would submit that most placed in my shoes would do the same.

We are going to be lifelong companions, you and I. The challenges will increase as we grow old together, and it would be nice if a female companion would eventually join us. But by the grace of God, I will be ready for whatever you throw at me.



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Originally published: March 30, 2015
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