My parents always tell me that when I was born it was one of the happiest days of their lives, but I know it was also one of the scariest. Eight hours after I arrived the doctors noticed that I wasn’t breathing right, so they began to stroke my back to help my breathing. Those first few days of my life I continued to have the same issue so the nurses kept a constant watch over me to assist. Still concerned, and although I was merely an infant, the doctors had me undergo a Cat Scan which revealed that I had a stroke.
Not surprisingly, my parents were instantly frightened. They were understandably in shock, having just met me and fallen in love at first sight with their son, and then having to comprehend that something was wrong with me. Throughout the day I began to get worse as my seizures continued. The doctors then told my parents to prepare themselves that I likely wouldn’t make it through the night.
My parents tell me that what happened after that was more of a miracle. They spread the word that I was sick and it wasn’t looking good for me. In response, many people that didn’t know our family began to pray for me. Somehow I made it through the night and into the next day. From this experience my family felt that there might be hope. But given I would continue to have seizures and not really improve, the doctors warned my parents that I would not be able to walk or talk. Although, they felt feelings of anger, sadness and frustration, my parents were determined to have me both walk and talk and beat the odds. And so, when I was only three weeks old, I began physical and occupational therapy. I believe because of their “never say never” attitude, I learned to accomplish things the doctors thought were impossible. My parents brought me in everyday to have the therapists work with me, and also spent countless hours on their own with me. Thanks to their perseverance, and despite the doctors’ assumptions, I was able to walk and talk from the age of 1 ½! And to make sure I continue to be my very best, I still go to physical therapy to help with the strength and balance of my right leg and arm.
Growing up I don’t think I fully understood my disability and the effect it had on me until I reached middle school. At first I was accustomed to, and therefore, always accepted the help of others. As I grew up, however, I wanted to be able to do things more independently. Despite my determination, it was difficult to do certain things that I hoped would be easy. I had no choice so I tended to ask for help from my parents and sometimes my younger sister. For example, my family would help me with things like tying my shoes, getting clothes on over my brace and buttoning shirts. We researched options to make it easier for me, watched endless YouTube videos and also consulted with occupational therapists. Thankfully, it all helped and made it easier for me to dress myself on my own. Eventually, I was able to tie my own shoes and started to button collared shirts with my left hand using my right hand as support! This became second nature to me and was how I approached every situation whether it was difficult for me or not. Even with my huge accomplishments it was still very tedious.
Despite my disability, I was given the opportunity to play sports. I was active and involved in many different sports, but my love for basketball stood out among the rest. When I reached high school, I was given a chance to be on the varsity basketball team. This was an amazing experience, but also full of ups and downs. At the start of my junior season I had to be able to change into my basketball uniform and tie my shoes quickly to make it to practice on time. The warm up bottoms were button downs, which made things even more difficult. Many times I would have to ask my teammates for help and luckily they were more than willing. My family and I tried to think of ways to adapt to these things, but unfortunately there was nothing I could do about the pants except ask for help. For the shoes, we were able to get ahold of someone from Nike who was able to send me adaptable shoes that had zippers and velcro instead of laces. Luckily they are made not only for sports, but everyday life. These shoes were my first experience with adaptive clothing and they made my life so much easier. That’s why Runway of Dreams’ mission to make adaptive fashion mainstream is so important. Everyone needs to get dressed and everyone wants to dress the way they like. Adaptive apparel makes that possible.
Although I have had many people and programs that have helped me adapt and make my life easier, I have always tried to inspire others by way of showing people that I can do anything I set my mind to. Runway of Dreams is helping me achieve my goal of even greater independence and they are helping me do it in style!