‘Never let a disability get you down. You can do anything you set your mind to.’
“I was born with cerebral palsy. When I was very little, I had to be confined to a wheelchair because it was very difficult to walk. I have certain challenges. I was made fun of when I was younger. I was teased and picked on because of my disability. But cerebral palsy doesn’t stop me from being me.
“Now I’m a volunteer for many different organizations across Long Island. I was recognized by the Town of Hempstead with the Make A Difference Award in 2014 for what I have done and achieved.
We must all learn and become aware of people’s needs and treat everyone equally and with respect.
“I have recently started to advocate for the J-1 visa program, which allows foreign students to come to the U.S. to work with special needs young adults and then go to school to study special ed.
“I have also worked for the Marty Lyons Foundation, which, like Make-A-Wish, grants wishes to special children. I have to make sure that when the child comes to New York, everything is in place for their wish and stay.
“As a Make-A-Wish alumnus, I see the importance in helping others. This past year, I raised over $6,000 for the AHRC Foundation at their annual walkathon. It made me feel very special and proud that I accomplished that goal because it was not easy to do.
“The walkathon was one of my proudest moments because I didn’t even know I raised that much money until that morning. Everybody congratulated me, and it was just such a great moment! I’m also big into sports. I play baseball with the League of Yes. It’s a special needs league for kids with disabilities. I play wheelchair lacrosse for Garden City.
“It’s a challenger division because everyone has special needs. I do a lacrosse tournament every summer in Massapequa called Shootout for Soldiers, and I’m the only one in a wheelchair that plays in that game. Everyone else walks. So, to me it’s very special. I want everyone to know that people with special needs, especially the ones who use a wheelchair like me, need to be heard.
“We must all learn and become aware of people’s needs and treat everyone equally and with respect. I think that it’s very important that everybody understands my story. Never let a disability get you down. You can do anything you set your mind to. Nothing will stop me, not even a wheelchair.”
Interviewed by Jay Max