Don’t Count Me Out:  Cerebral Palsy Awareness

Claire Smyth by Claire Smyth Additional Needs

Claire Smyth

Claire Smyth

You might make the assumption that someone living with Cerebral Palsy may not be able to accomplish things in life that an able bodied person is capable of due to the nature of their various physical challenges.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact many living with Cerebral Palsy are defying the odds and going on to live incredible lives despite their condition.

As we celebrate Cerebral Palsy Month we’re taking a look at those who are have succeeded in making remarkable accomplishments and living life to the fullest.

Susie Bennett, a now well-seasoned author living in the UK, is on her fourth-published book.

Susie was born in Stockton-on-Tees and faced countless doubters during her lifetime that she’d ever have the capability of such big accomplishments let alone the ability to have hopes of ever walking, talking, or be physically functioning in many ways.

Her debut book, Sky’s the Limit, “demonstrates Susan’s steely resolve to overcome all of life’s obstacles, some physical and some emotional and some quite devastating.

The book reflects Susan’s feelings of cherishing what you have and not worrying about what you don’t have, all with a happy demeanor.

One by one the ‘can’t do’s are ticked off as ‘done’.

She followed up her successful biography with three additional books The Lighting Wizard, A Homeless Paradise and World’s Apart. She’s turned all the cant’s and crushing predictions about her life into I can’s and watch me do it.

Zach Anner, a natural born comedian living with Cerebral Palsy gained nationwide attention when he focused his efforts on gaining Oprah Winfrey’s attention in her search for The Next TV Star Competition.

He was hugely successful going on to gain his own show on the OWN Network called Rollin’ With Zach.

He showed the world that there was no place a wheelchair could not go and that it was all about defying limits set before you. What we love most about Zach is his ability to name all the things he is before what he isn’t, always throwing in his condition as a side note, "I also have cerebral palsy, so that’s a thing.”

He shows the world that you can still enjoy life to the fullest - even if from a wheelchair.

Team Hoyt, likely one of the most inspirational duos of all time showing the world just how it’s done when you have someone who believes in you when you have Cerebral Palsy.

A Father and Son duo - a perfect team running Marathons together since 1977.

Dick and Judy Hoyt gave birth to their son Rick, in 1962, and were quickly encouraged to institutionalize their son being told he’d have no quality of life.

However, these pair of devoted parents had other plans for their son and gave Rick every opportunity of inclusion in all life events.

With the help from an adapted computer, Rick was able to communicate his desires for his life using a tap of a head switch to tell his parents his dream was to run a 5K race.

It would become the first of over 1,000 races which led to participation in triathlons.

Although they have slowed down their pace, neither Dick or Rick have retired from living life to the fullest and accomplishing these physical achievements together.

Paul Smith, known to the world by his distinct and unique artwork passed away at the age of 85.

But leaves a lasting legacy on the remarkable abilities of a man without the ability to grasp writing utensils, eat, dress himself or express his thoughts, yet he pressed on.

Against all odds it took him 16 years before learned how speak and 32 years before he was able to walk.

Although you’d think that alone would have been the biggest accomplishment of his lifetime, his claim to fame was when he realized he could create masterpieces of art by using a manual typewriter.

Paul’s artwork was created merely using a handful of symbols on the typewriter.

His desire to create art was simply a hobby and a leisurely way to pass time. He gave himself little credit for the amazing and talented artist he had become.

Paul was the first trailblazer for those with Cerebral Palsy in the art world.

With today’s advanced technology, countless others are following in his footsteps able to creativity not to be confined with the limits of the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.

Visually it may appear that someone with Cerebral Palsy is limited in capabilities.

However, they are individuals that possess such a tremendous drive and determination to show the world just exactly how much they can accomplish and achieve if you just believe in them and give them the platform to go the distance.

Awareness is key in teaching others about the value of inclusion and helping cultivate these incredible life achievements and goals.

“Don’t count me out… I have been built and strengthened by life’s battles. When you think I’m tired; I’m just getting started.” - Steve Maraboli


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