Thursday, October 4, 2012

Proving the Doctors Wrong - Growing Up with Cerebral Palsy

Proving the Doctors Wrong

By Ben Jackson
My name is Benjamin David Cummings-Jackson and I was born with Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy. I was born on January 20th 1993 in Brooklyn, New York at Interfaith Hospital. After birth I was immediately rushed to neonatal care and spent ten days in the hospital. Doctors told my mom everything I would never be able to do, such as walking. They also expressed that my entire life would be confined to a wheelchair. They said I wouldn’t be able to attend school, have a social life and pretty much be limited due to my cerebral palsy. Doctors even suggested that mom just let me die, because I would be a burden and too much to deal with. Fortunately, my mom put it in God’s hands and took me home.

Exploring My Strengths Through Sports

Growing up with CP was no easy task; I took my first steps when I was 18 months old. As a kid, I was always very energetic and passionate about sports. The first sport I remember being heavily involved in was basketball. Although basketball wasn’t easy for me, I was eager to learn and adapted a strong work ethic that I still carry with me to this day. Sports taught discipline which helped me in school, allowing me to excel in all subjects. My favorite subjects were math and history. Although I was determined, school was tough because I was the only disabled kid in the entire school and I didn’t know what it was at the time but I just felt different.
In seventh grade my family moved to Pennsylvania and I attended Clear Run Intermediate. At first, I was just the new kid so everyone was kind of cautious when approaching me, but as the weeks went on everyone was very accepting. After a year went by I moved up to eighth grade. I now went to Pocono Mountain West Junior High School. The Junior High school was different; there were a lot more kids which was a challenge for me because I was pretty much the only kid with a physical disability. One day on my way out of the building to catch the bus to go home, I saw a poster that said “Come be a part of the West Wrestling Team.” I took a sign-up sheet home and showed my mom and dad.
My parents have always been very supportive of me, so when the idea of wrestling came up they encouraged me to go for it. Wrestling in junior high was the biggest challenge I have ever taken on, because it was the most physical and I loved it. The first two years of wrestling involved intense workout both in the weight room and on the mat. But it was all worth it, because in my second year I won my first wrestling match by pin. Everyone was so happy for me. That’s when I discovered that with hard work anything is possible.

An Award-Winning Senior Year

Entering high school I had a new reputation as the heart of the wrestling team. High school was great. I kept my grades high, allowing me to achieve honor roll multiple times. Since academically I had my standards set, I was able to focus on wrestling when I was not studying. Every afternoon at 2:45pm, I would go to wrestling practice for two hours, then go home and do homework before bed. As my high school years went by, both my physical and mental appearance grew stronger. Senior year I was determined to make my last year my greatest achievement yet.
The first wrestling match of senior year I was awarded “The Chris Hernandez M.V.P Award.” Chris Hernandez was a former wrestler at Pocono Mountain West whom was tragically killed, so when I won his award it meant the world to me. I would go on to win six more matches that year, which were my most so my goal was achieved. At the annual wrestling banquet, I was given the honor of getting my own award named after me, “The Ben Jackson Courage Award.” It brought me to tears. Every year, my award will be handed out to a new wrestler. As the year went on I was also given other awards including the “Ray A. Kroc Youth Achievement Award” followed by “The Donald Cramer Memorial Award,” which was given to me at graduation.

Continuing to Chase After My Dreams

Today, I attend Northampton Community College and this will be my second year. College has presented me with many challenges, but I never let anything defeat me and I don’t plan on starting now. My first year I was teased and laughed at when walking down the halls. It did hurt my feelings, but my goal was never to find satisfaction in others. My goal was to go above and beyond in my academics and I did exactly that by making the Dean’s List. My life has been filled with challenges, but every challenge has been followed by a triumph of success.

About the Author

Benjamin David Cummings-Jackson lives in Pennsylvania, where he continues to exceed all doctors’ expectations. He is excelling in college and hopes to inspire others to achieve their dreams.

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1 comment:

  1. I have cerebral palsy and the one thing I can say about my life now is that I am going to "rock my flaws" as someone else said on her blog. A lot of people have a lot of difficulties, not just those of us with CP, but I have given up feeling bad about all the high school derision, my ex-wife's derision of my CP and I want to live my life without all of that and find a place where that is not an issue. Haven't found it yet. I have spent most of my life helping other people, immigrants, getting started in America. I dream of working to help other people with CP. I have kind of mild CP, I type with my left hand and have an office job, but lately, mainly after all my ex-wife's "cripple" comments, I just want to help other "cripples." That might be a cruel word to use, but as I said, "I'm ready to rock my flaws." And not afraid of being a "cripple."