I’ve had CP (cerebral palsy) since I was born. It’s made daily tasks like using the bathroom, brushing my teeth, getting dressed – all those simple things that are easy for my mom and my sister – take twice as long for me. I get tired really fast.
If I don’t use my muscles every day, the joints and muscles break down faster than for a regular person. That’s why I have to exercise every day. I work with my (physical therapy) staff to practice stairs, walk the treadmill, do sit and stands, things like that. Otherwise, my muscles get tight and hard to move. I’ve had several surgeries to loosen them up, like on my Achilles tendon that allowed me to use the bottom of my feet.
No surgery has ever been able to make me completely independent. I have had to use a walker since I was two, but that didn’t stop me from accomplishing a lot of goals. I graduated from high school in 2010. After that, I got a job making Sunny Bunny easter eggs at the shelter (a supervised work environment for people with disabilities). We fill the eggs with toys and candy.
I like it all right, but I’d like to do something with more responsibility. I would also like to move out of my mom’s house and live on my own at some point. My dream job is to become an oceanologist. My sister McKayla jokes that you kinda need to live by the ocean to do that. So I guess I have some pretty big dreams to strive for.
My LifeGlider Is Bringing More Dreams Within Reach
In spring 2020, my family did a GoFundMe campaign and raised the money to get me a LifeGlider. The best word I can think of to describe using it so far is surreal. Like anything new, it felt awkward to use it at first. But then I lost my balance in it for the first time, and it caught me. It was amazing. McKayla said I had the biggest look of surprise on my face!
I started trying lots of new things, like standing up to cook. I had never been able to stand for very long. Maybe 10 minutes before I would have to sit down. Now I can walk into the kitchen, even reach up and get myself a snack, all by myself.
Walking in general is easier with it. Long distances are easier, like in the park or when we go shopping. I can exercise in new ways, too. It was hot outside one day, so my staff was looking up indoor exercises on YouTube and found some Zumba videos. That’s when I first tried dancing. I’ve never been able to do that before!
I’m still learning. I still use my old walker at work, because I haven’t been able to get in and out of the LifeGlider by myself yet. But I’m working on it. My goal is to work up to using the LifeGlider all the time. I’m already able to lock the brake myself when I’m standing still. And I walked in it recently while wearing a brand new pair of shoes on uneven ground. Getting better all the time.
My Sister and I Are Disability Advocates
In 2019, my twin sister McKayla and I created Mirror Image Advocacy. Our goal is to use our story to inspire people with disabilities and educate others. McKayla has been putting up lots of videos on the Mirror Image Facebook page of me in my LifeGlider. We want people to see the struggles people with CP have. We want them to see what’s possible, too.
Thanks to the LifeGlider, a lot more is possible for me than ever before. My sister calls it “the real deal” because it has given me so much happiness and confidence I didn’t have before. I’m coming out of my shell more. I want to do public speaking. I’d like to see Mirror Image grow into a not-for-profit. I’m thinking about writing a book about my life.
I’m so thankful my friends and family raised the money for my LifeGlider. It’s worth it. If you want to know more about my experience with it so far, just ask. The support I’ve gotten from my community has been amazing. Let me know how I can give back by supporting you!