I have shared my story about how I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. My youth was normal. I did things that regular kids did. But I had to be fitted with a leg brace. I’ve worn it since I was small.
Like other kids, one of my passions is watching my favorite wrestlers, including The Undertaker, The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. And just like other kids, my other passion was hockey– whether I was playing or watching. I always looked up to former Leafs’ captain, Mats Sundin, and the team’s popular goalie, Curtis Joseph.
When I was five, my parents decided to put me into organized hockey. Unfortunately, that did not go too well for me since I had trouble keeping my balance. A coach suggested my parents put me in special needs hockey. Soon, I was playing with kids with other types of disabilities.
I played for the Cooksville/Mississauga Crusaders from 2002-2009. It was a wonderful experience as I got to travel and make friends.
I befriended one person, in particular. His name is Casey Mackay. Casey, who has cerebral palsy, and I met in 2004 while we played for the Crusaders. We built a friendship on and off the ice. We had a lot in common. We shared a life-long devotion to the Leafs. We also went to high school together. I remember the good times we enjoyed together.
Those good times often involved hockey. We fell a lot, but Casey’s dad and brother were always there to pick us up – literally and figuratively-speaking.
Casey has a more pronounced form of cerebral palsy.
“The type of CP I was born with is called Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy. This means that all 4 of my limbs are affected, but my legs are worse than my arms,” he said.
In fact, Casey says that he has also become involved in charities that serve the wider community.
“At a young age, I got involved with Easter Seals Ontario. In 2009, I was the Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador and since then I’ve been actively involved in being a voice for kids and youth with physical disabilities. This has boosted my self-confidence,” he said.
Tom Gabriel also lives with spastic diplegia. He’s also my friend. He says people need to look beyond the disability.
“I would want to say that people just need to be open and just be aware that CP, as well as other disabilities we can’t change it it’s who we’re, are, and we’re more than happy to teach you and hopefully that can grow more aware of our disability and just be more known. Just like anything else don’t shut us out just because, we look, talk or do things differently than you,” he said.
Living with CP has been a journey for me and my friends. My journey continues. I don’t let my disability stop from achieving my goals. After I graduate, one journey will end and another will begin.