Laura’s Tribute to Brian, Her Son

Love Without Barriers

Years later, a child’s life brings warm memories

A Mother’s tribute to her son

Although the majority of children with cerebral palsy will live long, healthy lives, for some – like Brian McDonald, 21 – life is unfairly shortened. Most would agree, parents shouldn’t lose their child so early. Laura McDonald, Brian’s mother, reaches out – in her own words – to other families who have recently lost their child. While doing so, Laura pays tribute to the son who so beautifully shared his bright light.

“Some may ask, what was the purpose to his life?” she wrote. “Why did he have to be so challenged? What value did he have?” To which she responds that the people that knew Brian, know the answer. “He was physically flawed, but spiritually flawless,” she said. “We took the time to experience his grace, and through all the trials and tribulations we know that we have been living in the presence of an angel.”

To read Laura’s full tribute, visit Laura McDonald’s Tribute to Brian, Her Son

Posted in CP Inspiration by denise on July 13, 2013

Love Without Barriers

Love Without Barriers

Finding love, starting families and living happily ever after

It’s that time of the year again; the one where the lovers and the lovelorn either celebrate their passion and respect for one another, or resolve that by February of next year, they’ll be with someone really special. But for too many people with disabilities, February 14 can be a time to focus on what one does not have. Many individuals with special needs – especially those that are young – wonder if wading into the dating pool is an option. For most teens, dating is a turning of the page; a large and transformative part of the transition from childhood to adulthood. For those with disabilities, traveling the path to love may seem like one bridge that is simply too far down the road.

Frankly, it’s easy to see why young people with special needs may be under that false impression. There are too few representations of disabled people living full, productive, happy lives in the media. In the real world, physical access is often still an obstacle that can make going out on a date seem difficult. And there’s always a nagging question of, “Is my disability simply too much for someone outside of my family to embrace?”
The good news is those with cerebral palsy seeking relationships not only date, they find love, start families, and live happily ever after.

MyChild at CerebralPalsy.org has compiled a list of tips to help with the dating process:

Tips for two

  1. Be leery of anyone asking about financial information
  2. Investigate physical access before a date, not after
  3. Make eye contact; don’t be shy
  4. Remember that being with someone is a choice
  5. Expecting to find love is practical in every way
  6. Be confident in what you can offer another
  7. Strive for improvement and shed negativity
  8. Envision your future, then strive for it
  9. Seek solutions to relationship obstacles
  10. Grow together and spend time apart

To learn more about Cupid’s bow, star-crossed lovers and tips for two, visit Love Without Barriers

Posted in CP Inspiration by denise on February 12, 2013

Race by Race: A Father’s Love Lifts His Son

Rick and Dick Hoyt in Hawaii

When Dick Hoyt’s son Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, he was devastated. But when he and his wife, Judy, were told to place Rick in an institution, the devoted parents decided to give their son a life of uncommon opportunity, inclusion and, of course, athletics. This is Dick’s story.

A son’s relationship with his father is one that can leave an indelible mark on both parties, but there aren’t many fathers – or sons – that have the ability to leave that same mark on a community of people that, too often, have no voice.

It’s a role that Dick Hoyt could never have conceived of when in 1977 his namesake, 15-year-old Rick, asked if the pair could participate in a five-mile charity run to raise money for local track and lacrosse player Jimmy Banacos, paralyzed in an automobile accident.

The request, in and of itself, was a blessing as Rick’s form of cerebral palsy rendered him non-verbal and reliant on his wheelchair for mobility. For most of Rick’s first 15 years, Dick knew his son was intelligent, but struggled to find ways to communicate with him.

“A spastic wave of his arms, a nod of his head, or a glance in a specific direction were amongst the very limited weapons that Rick has in his communications arsenal,” said Todd Civin, co-author of Rick’s newly released book “One Letter at A Time.”

A computer they dubbed “The Hope Machine” put the wheels in motion, literally. Through the Hope Machine Rick made one of his first requests of his father—a charity run to support another with special needs.

“Rick really wanted to help the lacrosse player because he understood what he was going through,” he said. “And this was something he wanted to do with me, so I thought, why not push him in a wheelchair?”

At race completion, the phenomenon known as Team Hoyt was born. Father and son found a way to connect, bond and compete, together.

Fast forward 30 years

At the time Rick published his book “One Letter at a Time” earlier this year, Team Hoyt participated in 1,003 races, including 248 triathlons, 22 duathlons, 70 marathons (including 30 in their beloved Boston), 94 half marathons, 216 10-kilometer sprints, 157 5-milers, and 152 5-kilometer races, to name a few. Their tours include “The Trek Across America;” biking through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts for the “Axa World Ride ’95;” and a race from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.

Dick, now 72, and Rick, 50, show no signs of stopping, and Dick’s dedication to his son is still a testament to the power of love.

A son’s relationship with his father is one that can leave an indelible mark on both parties, but there aren’t many fathers – or sons – that have the ability to leave that same mark on a community of people that, too often, have no voice.

Everyone says a child changes your life,” Dick said. “We knew that our son Rick was about to change our lives in ways we never could have predicted.”

This is Dick Hoyt’s story—Race by Race: A Father’s Love Lifts His Son. An amazing story!

Read Dick’s story

For Dick Hoyt: Part I – Race by Race, a Father’s Love Lifts Son
For Dick Hoyt: Part II – The Basics
For Dick Hoyt: Part III – Transcending Limits

Join the MyChild discussion of the Hoyt’s on Facebook,
CerebralPalsy.org on Facebook

Posted in CP Inspiration by denise on December 14, 2012

Josh Blue Takes “Cerebral” Out of “Cerebral Palsy”

Josh Blue with Mouse

JOSH BLUE

Comedian, Cerebral Palsy is a Laughing Matter

Josh Blue’s quirky view on life, and cerebral palsy, helped him win top “Last Comic Standing” honors and a full-time career as a comic. But please, don’t call him an inspiration, he says.

“The word ‘inspiration’ is actually a swear-word for disabled people,” he said.

“You’ll run into situations where someone will tell you you’re an inspiration just for walking around out there. “What if I told them that I was on my way to the liquor store?” Josh jokes. “How inspirational would that be?”

Josh Blue incorporates his memories as a U.S. Paralympian Men’s Soccer Team competitor and his own life experiences in a humorous manner that brilliantly educates the audience on aspects of living with disability. “I just want to get people with disabilities into the limelight,” he said.

“Regarding having cerebral palsy, I know realistically that I can’t go up there on stage and ignore it,” Josh said. “But the feedback that I get after a minute or two has nothing to do with cerebral palsy.”

“A life of pursuing my dream and rocking the microphone every night, and receiving a standing ovation is not a bad way to live your life,” he said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Even growing up I knew that more or less my condition is a really small issue in terms of the rest of the planet,” Josh said. “I’ve enjoyed food on my table and shelter for my entire life, and a lot of people don’t have those things. My cerebral palsy is a miniscule issue for most of the planet.”

Josh Blue, while waiting in an airport hanger, updates MyChild on his successful career and most recent insights. To learn more, visit Josh Blue – Comedian, Cerebral Palsy is a Laughing Matter

Posted in CP Inspiration by denise on November 30, 2012

Business Owner’s Generosity Provides Relief for Boy with Cerebral Palsy

David Scarbrough, 12, from Susanville, CA, has cerebral palsy. When his doctor prescribed an in-home hydrotherapy tub to relieve chronic pain, joint inflammation and rigidity David’s mother Ronette wondered how she was going to afford the tub without sufficient financing or health insurance. To date, they surpassed many obstacles including birth complications that threatened both their lives when David was born prematurely at 27 weeks weighing only 18 ounces.

In an effort to provide the care her son requires, Ronette turned to the power of the internet. She posted her plea on a fundraising website in hopes of soliciting donations from family, friends and strangers by telling David’s story.

Upon hearing of David’s dilemma, Mike Duffer, owner of Safe Step Walk-In Tub Company, rushed to assist. Duffer donated their top-of-the-line GentleJet Therapy tub and unit installation at no cost, stating “the opportunity to relieve some of the extreme pain the family suffers was payment in itself.”

Due to this generous donation, David and his family are able to release body tension and soothe aching muscles and joints by enjoying the calming, refreshing escape that the GentleJet Therapy tub provides. The 16 air bubble streams and 10 water jets are strategically designed to provide a relaxing and methodical massage to the entire body, or specific areas of the body (i.e, legs, feet, back…). The walk-in feature is designed to avoid bathroom and lifting injuries. The tub also features chromotherapy, aromatherapy and personal hygiene (bidet). Other features that assist those with special needs include anti-slip floor, built-in and wall-mount grab bars, anti-scald technology, No-Strength locking handle, and bacteria- and mold-resistant sanitary gel-coat surfaces.

Kudos to Mike Duffer and Safe Step Walk-In Tubs! What a generous, thoughtful and kind donation. In honor of such thoughtful and generous acts, MyChild is announcing the MyChild Blue Ribbon Challenge urging others to come forward to share stories of those that greatly contribute to the quality-of-life of an individual with cerebral palsy.

For more information on Mr. Duffer and Safe Step, visit Safe Step Walk-In Tubs. To see before and after tub installation photographs, visit Safe Step Walk-In Tub Installation

To contact Mr. Duffer (to thank him for such a wonderful gesture) or Safe Step:

Mike Duffer
Safe Step Walk-In Tub Company
1650 Elm Hill Pike, Ste. 5
Nashville, TN 37210
1-800-NEW-TUB (1-800-639-8827)

About Safe Step Walk-In Tub Company: Safe Step tubs are manufactured and built in America, using American-made components. Their quality is backed with the best warranty in the business, including a lifetime warranty on the tub, the door seal and faucets. Servicing all of the US and parts of Canada, Safe Step Walk-In Tub is a family company, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn.

The MyChild Blue Ribbon Challenge: If you know of other generous donations or gestures which improve the quality-of-life of an individual with cerebral palsy, we would like to hear from you. Contact MyChild at or share your story at Share Your MyChild Blue Ribbon Story.

Posted in CP Inspiration by denise on September 21, 2012

My Disability Gave Me Abilities

Tonight my heart was heavy and I began searching and was overjoyed to find this website. God has been nudging me to share my story for quite some time but in the back of my mind I have always “counted it out” as a story not worth telling.

Tonight is different and I am here to encourage the people that my story might impact. My name is Misty and I am 31 years old with Mild CP. At a very early age my mother noticed that I was not as mobile as I should be. I began completing tasks in non-traditional ways more suitable for my “gift.”

Now keep in mind….I didn’t always view it as a “gift”. As a matter of fact it was quite the opposite for me…most especially during those painful physical therapy appointments that seemed to go on and on, or the kids and teachers in class that just didn’t quite understand me. However I continued to defy the odds by doing all the things that the specialists did not think I would ever be able to do. Talking, eating by myself, tying my own shoes, riding a bike, participating in gym class…the list is endless but I had a plan that differed from theirs.

My plan was to live my life making the best of every situation and not allowing my CP to define who I was as a person. That plan continues today and I strive to help others that are in my shoes. I refuse to call this a disability because in my eyes it is just the opposite.

This “disability” gave me ABILITIES….abilities to love, to care, to see beyond, to reach higher when I was told I couldn’t, to strive through pain because I saw what was on the other side and most importantly to share my story when I would never have had the opportunity to otherwise.

With Love-
Misty
Tucson, Arizona

Posted in CP Inspiration by denise on August 28, 2012

Adventure, Hope, Love and Cerebral Palsy

I have a 9 yr old son that has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and cortical vision impairment. When he was diagnosed at 4 months we had no idea of all that this diagnosis entailed and how it would affect our lives.

Let me just say that it has been a different type of whirlwind. We have had our ups and downs with the ups winning. My son is totally dependent on us with all things like feeding, bathing, he is still in diapers, etc. He has started talking some which is wonderful.

Despite all this my son has made a positive impact on our lives. He has introduced my husband and me to a special world with wonderful people. Through my son I have met some of the most amazing children and adults that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.

We have experienced things and people that would have been lost to us otherwise. We have our moments of frustration like any other family but overall life is great. My son has opened my eyes in ways I never thought possible. I know he will probably always be with us and I will tell you that I look forward to a lifetime with him.

We all feel frustration, it is normal. In life there are all types of situations and ours is just a special one that adds adventure and hope and love. Our son is truly a blessing and will continue to enhance our lives.

Deana B.
Adairsville, GA

Visit Deana’s Website: http://teamlittlejake.wordpress.com

Posted in CP Inspiration by denise on May 30, 2012

I Have Overcome a Lot of Obstacles

My name is Roderick Oishi. I’m 52 years old (Born 1959 in Honolulu Hawaii) and have Cerebral Palsy (Mild). I too went to special school when I was young and transferred to a regular school. Many of my family members had thought of me as not normal and did not think I stood a chance of being independent because of my Condition, yet I have graduated from high school and went to do work for awhile at vocational rehab centers.

I wanted more of a challenge and moved on and did volunteer work for such a place as the Maritime Center (Falls of Clyde) and the Mighty Mo. In May of 1998 I had decided to try out for the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and as of now I’m one of few people who has gotten in to this volunteer organization. I have been with it for 14 years and it has changed my life.

I have overcome a lot of Obstacles despite being physically challenged. It helped me to realize that I can be normal like everyone else!

Roderick Oishi

(Posted by MyChild at Mr. Oishi’s urging. Mr. Oishi wishes to share his journey in hopes that his story will help inspire others with cerebral palsy to overcome the obstacles in their lives.)

Posted in CP Inspiration by Kenneth Stern on

The Hunt of a Lifetime with Elliot Who Has Cerebral Palsy

October 31, 2011

Elliott: Triple-Play Plus Fishing

It’s been about one month since the Hunt of a Lifetime and Elliot is still excited.

“I was just talking to my buddy, William. He was excited to hear about it. He is spreading the word, too, about this,” Elliot says, sitting in the living room with his mother on this day when school is off for teacher meetings. “I will be 13 in January. I am a sixth grader and proud of it, too.”

Elliot also is proud to recite the names of the volunteers who helped him prepare and enjoy the hunt event. “It was a big deal for me and it was exciting.”

As part of the process to prepare for his first hunt, Elliot registered for a local hunter safety course. “I enjoyed every minute of it and every minute of every day leading up to the Hunt of a Lifetime.”

While Elliot is a skilled conversationalist with an optimistic view on life, he did admit his usual flowing commentary stopped when he arrived at the Rands’ impressive cabin that was his to call home for three days.

“I was speechless for 10 minutes,” Elliot says. His mother and DNR Conservation Warden Jeremy Peery, are quick to challenge the time without an Elliot commentary, and he relents but emphasizes how impressed he was to find the cabin “completely accessible” and so easy for him to maneuver.

He didn’t waste much time settling in and headed for target practice with the new sip and puff firearm. “I nailed it,” he says of the target.

He also nailed a 10-point buck hours later — with about two minutes left of the legal hunting day. A photo of the deer, and Elliot with his father and grandfather, is one of his prize possessions from the event.

The deer head is being mounted, Elliot says. But it won’t be going in the family’s living room to join the other deer mounts from his father. Why? “Because it’s bigger than his,” Elliot says with a big smile. “So it’s going in my bedroom.”

The harvested buck was just the first day and hours after his arrival.

Up by 6 a.m. the next day and after a quick call to his mom, Elliot and company were out the door on a bear hunt with Peery, Rands and a group of volunteer hunters with their hounds. That outing ended with Elliot harvesting a 150-pound bear which is on its way to becoming a bear rug.

Back to the cabin for food and it was back to the woods when Elliot got a doe.

“They called it a triple-play,” he says of his three successful hunts in about 24 hours. “The other kid, Ryan, did it, too.”

Two children are selected to participate in each Hunt of a Lifetime. Ryan, a boy from Cumberland, was Elliot’s hunting partner for this event.

The animals harvested by Elliot are off to processing and will return to Elliot’s home for a lot of dinners and lunches.

An evening banquet on the last night at the cabin was attended by the families, volunteers and even some youths who hunted in past events. “It was a good old time and I had a blast.”

How did Elliot celebrate? Fishing the next day before coming home.

Elliot and his mother, Amanda, have no hesitation in urging other kids to get in on the event.

“Most people will describe me as a nice person – and that I’m in a wheelchair. Not all CP people are in a wheelchair,” Elliot says, adding that didn’t stop him from going on a Hunt of a Lifetime.

He would enjoy more hunting, but “the equipment is expensive and we can’t afford it.”

Elliot stops and looks toward his mother and says he wasn’t insulting her. She smiles and says she understands. For Amanda, who grew up in a hunting family, she had no fears encouraging Elliot to participate in a hunting event. The emphasis was on safety and the boys always had skilled volunteers – like Warden Peery – by their sides.

For Amanda, it was Elliot’s chance to be with a lot of good people and make new friends that sold her.

“The hunt itself is great. But being able to meet other people, having Elliot meet people and make friends – and knowing there was another boy in a wheelchair who would be there – that’s what makes a big difference,” Amanda Ewer says. “Rusk County isn’t big. But it’s amazing how many people put so much into this – and to be able to meet those great people.

“This was a big deal – being able to make friends,” she says. “And, yes, we can’t afford the equipment to allow Elliot to have such an awesome experience.”
Elliot says he hopes other kids like him would go.

“If you get a chance, go on this hunt. They make is accessible for you. They make it as fun as possible. I didn’t feel any fear of anything,” Elliot says, adding he’d tell that to any other child in the same health situation as his. “I think it, the Hunt of a Lifetime, would help them feel more confident and, yes, raise their self-esteem. I am ready to take on just about anything.”

Besides all the fun, what did he learn specifically from the host – Bill Rands?

“He told me: ‘Keep your head up and keep smiling.’ And that’s what I do every day. I’ve been like that my whole life.”

– Joanne M. Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

For more information on this opportunity:

Joanne M. Haas
Bureau of Law Enforcement
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
RE: Hunt of a Lifetime
101 S. Webster
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7921
(606)266-2621

Posted in CP Inspiration by denise on October 31, 2011

A Day in My Life…

October 28, 2011

A Day in My Life…The week day begins at 6:30 a.m. even though my alarm starts ringing at 6. I wake up looking at beautiful Lake Michigan from the 40th floor of my Chicago hi-rise condo. My day officially starts by watching a 15 minute subliminal video on health and wealth. Then I do the normal shower, shave and dress for work. Luckily most days are casual, so jeans and t-shirts rule.

Next is my morning commute from the city to the suburbs, Oak Brook, Illinois to be exact. What should take about 25 minutes is always an hour or more due to crazy Chicago traffic. I am an information junkie so I have CD’s that range from sales success to life success, always trying to make the best use of my time.

When I get to work, it is a day filled with sales calls, contract negotiation, looking for new clients, staff meetings, etc.

I usually take a break for lunch and grab a quick bite with my girlfriend.

After work consists of many different things from working out – which I have to get serious about – to movies, dinners, concerts, sporting events and festivals, to name a few.

Most evenings I get home between 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. I try to read for at least one-half hour before I hit the pillow and before – you know it! – I hear that all too familiar beeping that signals it’s time to get up and do it all over again.

…a day in my life.

Oh, by the way, I have cerebral palsy. It doesn’t define me.

Cheers,

Al

Albert Ramirez, 50, sales manager, is one of the 100 chosen by Jack Canfield, originator of Chicken Soup for the Soul(R) series, to participate in The Success Principles : How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.

Posted in CP Inspiration by denise on October 28, 2011


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