Cerebral Palsy

The Thing About CP

For those of you who don’t know, cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects movement and posture. For some, effects can be severe, but for others, it’s more mild. I’m blessed to be on the more mild end of the spectrum; for me, it affects the way I get around. I’ve used a walker and worn calf-high braces since I was little, and weekly physical therapy is routine.

I try to have the perspective that my disability is a way for me to inspire others and impact lives; it’s a platform the Lord has given me to spread His Light and Love. While that is the way I look at it, there are days when I lose perspective and end up crying, because the frustration has become too much. Like when I see my dad get ready to run, and wish I could go with him but can’t. Or when I wake up, and taking a step sends throbbing pain through my feet. Or on the days when I’m so tight, I feel like I can barely move.

But here’s the thing about CP. It is an it. It’s a thing; it’s not me. It doesn’t define me or who I am, and it may affect the way I get around, but it will not affect the way I live my life. I want to be known for lighting up a room; I want to be the reason someone’s day is brighter. I want to inspire others and make an impact, and be known for that. Not my disability.

So here’s the thing: I may have cerebral palsy, but cerebral palsy does not have me.


Mixed Emotions

I picked up my cap and gown Thursday, and that was when it sunk in.

I’m graduating in two months.

Even though I’ve known for months the day when I’d toss my cap in the air and move on to the next stage of life was coming, the realization that my days in high school were numbered was jarring. In two short months, the routine I’ve grown used to, the people I see every day, watching sports with my family…. all of that is about to change.

My AP Literature class on the first day of senior year. (Photo courtesy of my awesome teacher. 😉)

And I’m feeling a little conflicted about all of it.

On one hand, I’m incredibly excited. In just a few months, I’ll be a student at the school I’ve loved since I was a little girl, and the dream I’ve had since I was six years old will come true. (We’re still working out details, but me going to UF looks promising.) I can’t wait to be on that campus every day and be surrounded by people who have as much passion for the orange and blue as I do. I can’t wait to jump into college life and begin gaining the knowledge and experience I need to be successful. I found out yesterday that UF students get in free to all athletic events except football games-and football season tickets aren’t expensive- and I really can’t wait to cheer on the Gators. You can bet I’ll be at every sporting event I can make it to.

On the other hand, I’m nervous and anxious about life beyond high school. What happens if I can’t open a door on my own and there’s no one around to open it for me? Will I be able to balance the rigor of college courses with covering Florida sports? How do I find my way to classes and the dining hall? And-God forbid this happens- what do I do if I fall? What happens if no one’s around to help me get back up, or if I get hurt?

These questions bounce around in my mind and wind knots in my chest, but then I think back to my first day of high school.

I had similar fears. In fact, I was so scared that on the first day, I sat in first period with my hands in my lap so no one could see they were shaking.

I’ll be honest. That first day and the first semester weren’t the easiest. There were many times when I felt as if I didn’t fit in, and I wanted more than anything to go to another high school, the one the majority of my friends went to.

But you know what? It worked out.

I made friends, many of whom were seniors who helped me become acclimated to high school. I took journalism and joined a few clubs, and slowly, I began to feel like I belonged. As a freshman, I would’ve given anything to switch schools, but now, I dread the day I’ll have to leave. And when I think about the last four years, I think of memories I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. My W15H with Tim Tebow. Being named the Writing Club President, and running it with two of my closest friends. Junior year, walking the school’s halls as a member of our homecoming court, and then this year, being crowned homecoming queen. There were down moments along the way too of course, but they taught me lessons and helped me grow in ways I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Me, moments after being crowned Homecoming Queen. It was an incredible honor I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

My high school experience has been a ride to remember, and I have a feeling college will be similar. Will the first few months be difficult? Probably. Will I encounter challenges and obstacles to overcome? Definitely. Will the next few years be unforgettable? Without a doubt.

Note: I’m going to start posting more regularly- twice a week on Sunday and Wednesday afternoons.


Opinion: College Football Should Follow Basketball’s Lead

You win, you’re in.

That’s how college basketball views conference championships, and personally, I think college football should be the same way. Watching the SEC Tournament earlier today brought my mind back to early December, when the country debated whether Alabama or Ohio State should be in the College Football Playoff. Moments before the top four teams were announced, I was on Twitter, reading arguments for why each team should be in. As I scrolled through my feed, one Tweet in particular caught my eye:

The playoff should be expanded. The Power Five conference champions should be given automatic bids, then the committee picks the next three best teams.

Let’s be real here: The College Football Playoff may be a step up from the BCS system, but it has its flaws. Nearly every year, it seems like a team which should be in gets left out. In its inaugural year, everyone thought TCU should be in. In 2016, many believed Penn State should have been in the top four in lieu of Ohio State. The Buckeyes were again the topic of debate this past December, when several questioned whether they or the Alabama Crimson Tide should be given the chance to compete for a national title. The closest to a consensus was 2015. Why? All four playoff teams were conference champions.

Nothing will be perfect. There will always be someone on the outside looking in, who believes they should be in instead. But what I don’t like about the current system is it’s essentially saying conference championships don’t matter. And they should.

Winning your conference isn’t easy. To do that, you have to go through the gauntlet, winning at home, on the road, and against rivals. To take home a conference title is an accomplishment, and I think the Committee should treat it as such. A team should be rewarded for winning their conference, not left out as they have been the last few years.

And while we’re talking about conferences, the other issue with the current system is that whole conferences have been left out on multiple occasions. The Big 12 didn’t get in in year one, and both the PAC 12 and the Big Ten watched from their living room this year. SEC fans often say they’re the best conference in college football, but they can’t realistically say that when they didn’t face the Big Ten or the PAC 12. I’m not saying all conferences are equal, but I think everyone should at least be given a shot. Then we’ll know for sure who the best conference is.

Some think the season is too long as it is and expanding the playoff would only make it longer, but what’s wrong with that? College football fans would love it, plus schools would make more money. And before you start biting my head off, yes, I understand they’re just college students. Why do we have an entire month between the end of the regular season and the playoffs? Space out the games in such a way that it’s manageable for the boys and that they have time to rest/heal from injury.

The added risk for injury would be a con to expanding the playoff, and the only defense I have for that is injury is part of the game of football. When you step on a a football field, you know there’s a chance you can get hurt, and it’s a risk you take. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t play. It’s common to see players sit out of bowl games now.

Many think the Committee got it right this year because Alabama won the natty. But can you definitively say Ohio State wouldn’t have beaten Clemson and Georgia? I can’t. To me, expanding the playoff to eight teams with conference champions receiving an automatic bid would minimize debate and only make it more likely that the true champion is crowned. It’s the closest to a perfect scenario that I can come up with. If you’ve got any better ideas, I’m all ears.

And just in case you haven’t figured it out, I think Ohio State should’ve been in.

Cerebral Palsy · thoughts

Worth It

I’ll be honest: I have a lot to do before I’m fully independent. A lot. And when I went to bed last night, I was feeling really overwhelmed by it. A good night’s sleep didn’t take that feeling away. Unshed tears were a weight on my chest and I took a breath, trying to breathe through it as I wondered how I was going to climb this mountain.

Suddenly, that pain morphed into a quiet resolve to overcome this obstacle. I have to- I got in to my dream school, and I’m not going to lose the opportunity to live my dream. Will it be easy? No. Is the University of Florida worth it? Absolutely.

I think part of the problem is I’m trying to ascend the entire mountain in one day, and that isn’t possible. I’ve got to take it one day at a time and learn to not be frustrated with myself when I can’t do something immediately. I’m a perfectionist, so when I try something and fail, I beat myself up about it. Why I do that, I don’t know, because whenever one of my friends is trying something new or struggling with a class, I always remind them to do what they can today and be easy on themselves. It’s time I take my own advice.

I can do this. I know I can. I just have to work hard, go day by day, and remember that when I reach mountain’s summit and I’m living in Gainesville, it will be worth it.

Faith · My Writing

Help Me to Keep My Eyes on You: A Poem


As balls of stress form knots in my chest,

Help me to keep my eyes on You.

Help me to remember

That You are bigger than what I am feeling,

Help me to remember

That I am not a grade on a test,

And I am not the math problems I don’t understand.


No. No, I am Yours.

I am Your Child,

Created in Your image,

Created for Your purpose,

And You have me

Right in the palm of your Hands.

Even though the future is filled with unknowns,

And my journey

is full of unexpected twists and turns

May You be my Constant,

May I hold steadfast

To Your love and to the promises You have made.


You have said that You go before me,

And everything works together for my good.


Help me to trust You

And as the storm swirls around me and I wade into unknown waters,

Help me to keep my eyes on You.

Cerebral Palsy

Chasing Dreams

It’s the little things that matter.

For years, my mom has put my hair in a ponytail for me because due to my cerebral palsy I didn’t have the range of motion in my arms to do it on my own. Thanks to a surgery I recently had, I’ve gained more strength and range of motion in my arms, and on Sunday, I decided to figure out how to do my hair on my own. I’d just gotten accepted to the University of Florida, and I knew that was one thing I had to be able to do on my own if I want to go. So I went into my room, shut the door, and tried to do it. It wasn’t easy. My arms are still tight, and after a few minutes, I could feel fatigue in my muscles and had to stop. But I’d figured out how to get my hair through the elastic once, so at least that was progress.

I’ll be honest: I was exhausted last night and didn’t feel like doing anything. But then I thought about how amazing it would be to go to the O Connell Center to cheer the volleyball team on and how incredible it would be to say, “I go to my dream school” and knew I had to stretch and work out anyway. I slipped the hair tie on my wrist and tried again, knowing I was close and I’d figure it out eventually.

And you know what? I did it. It was a loose bun and definitely nothing I’d walk out of the house in, but I’d put my hair up on my own, and that was all that mattered. I was one step closer to Gainesville in the fall and the Swamp on Saturday afternoons. I was one step closer to my dreams.

Figuring out how to be totally independent won’t be easy, and I still have a lot to figure out. But Florida is worth it. My dreams are worth it. And I’m getting to Gainesville in the fall, no matter what it takes.


You Need Only to Be Still

“The Lord is fighting for you, you need only to be still.”

-Exodus 14:14

Ever since a family friend shared the verse with me when I was younger, it’s been one of my favorites. But this morning, when I came across it on my Twitter feed, the verse took on another meaning for me and I fell in love with it all over again.

To put it lightly, the last month has been a roller coaster. Between classes, scholarships, and trying to regain my strength after I had surgery, my life has been a whirlwind. And to make things even more interesting, I found out whether or not I got into Florida next Friday.

Next Friday. That means in eight days, I’ll know whether or not I got into my dream school.

I was a little nervous to even apply, for fear I’d get rejected and my heart would break. My parents encouraged me to do it anyway, because as they pointed out, it was a definite no if I didn’t submit an application.

So I applied, and over the course of the last five months, I’ve fought a mental battle. Some days, I feel the same way I did the day I applied: there’s no way I’ll get in. And then other days, I think I have a fighting chance. God’s done amazing things before- why can’t He do it again?

As the date inches closer, He keeps reminding me of His strength. Sometimes, it comes in the form of Scripture. The other day, I felt led to read Chapter 8 of Romans, and when I did, I came across this verse:

“If we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we should wait for it patiently and confidently.” Romans 8:25

The verse quieted my nerves and reminded to trust in His plan because it’s perfect, and He knows where I need to be, whether it’s UF or somewhere else.

Sometimes it comes when I’m able to do something I couldn’t before. Before my surgery, it was always difficult for me to frost cookies or butter bread because of the limited dexterity in my hands. You could always tell which Christmas cookie I had decorated, because it wasn’t exactly the prettiest. But the other day, I had a craving for peanut butter crackers. Even after someone offered to put the peanut butter on them for me, I was determined to spread it on my own. I knew that if anyone else wanted a snack, they would make it themselves, so why should I be any different? I did it, but not only that, the procedure had strengthened my left hand, so I was able to do it with much more ease. It’s funny how God can use something as small as peanut butter crackers to remind you that He’s stronger than the trials we face.

And sometimes, it comes from things that I’m positive have to be divine intervention. For example, the Tim Tebow Foundation’s annual Night to Shine prom is next Friday. It can’t be coincidence that the dates of both things coincide. And I’ve been blessed to receive scholarship opportunities that have given me options at a few other schools I’ve been accepted to.

Seeing Exodus 14:14 made me think about each of those things, and the words resonated with me in a way they hadn’t before. God is fighting for you, you need only to be still. As much as I feel as though I’m fighting this battle on my own, I’m not. He’s on my side, which means impossible things can come true.

What Bible verses have resonated with you lately?


Alabama to Hire Hugh Freeze?

On Tuesday, NBC’s College Football Talk reported that former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze visited Alabama’s football facilities, and today said that head coach Nick Saban is pushing to hire him to replace Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator. Understandably, there is some reluctance to bring Freeze back into the SEC- but is it really such a bad idea? I don’t think so. Before you call me crazy, hear me out.

Prior to taking over Ole Miss’s program in 2012, he was head coach at Lambuth for two seasons, where he went 8-4 and 12-1. He spent the 2011 season at Arkansas State, leading them to the GoDaddy.com Bowl before succeeding Houston Nutt as leader of the Rebels.

Freeze’s impact was immediate, as the Rebels went from winning just two games in 2011 to going 7-6 in 2012 and bringing home a bowl trophy. Ole Miss continued to rise, ranking in the top five in both 2014 and 2015. The program sent Robert Nkemdiche, Leremy Tunsil, and Evan Engram to the NFL, and Juco transfer Chad Kelly quickly became an SEC star under Freeze’s direction.*

Then came the NCAA investigation and allegations that Freeze had made some… unprofessional phone calls from his work phone. 2017 saw those allegations become sanctions, and in July, Freeze was officially fired as head coach of Ole Miss.

I think Freeze to Bama would be a good hire because when you look beyond the scandal, you see one thing: success. He knows how to win games (anyone else remember his victory over the Tide in 2015?) and looking at the players he sent to the NFL, it’s obvious that he knows how to develop talent.

As for what happened under his direction of Ole Miss’s program- it’s unacceptable. But I think we also have to remember that Ole Miss was Freeze’s first major head coaching job, and let’s be real: leading a college football program isn’t easy. There’s recruiting, game preparation, traveling, being away from your family, mentoring young men, trying to keep boosters happy…. it’s a lot. And when you do all of that and have the type of success Hugh Freeze had, is it so far fetched to say everything simply went to his head? Maybe it all just became too much, he saw himself as invincible, and thought he could overstep his boundaries and get away with it.

What I’m saying is this: Hugh Freeze is a human being who made a mistake. Granted, it was major and the whole world found out about it, but that’s all it was- a mistake. He deserves a second chance, and who better to give it to him than Nick Saban, who has mentored Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian? To me, the hire is a win-win situation: Freeze gets another shot, and Alabama gets a coach who can continue to lead their program to success.

Should Alabama hire Hugh Freeze? Let me know in the comments below!

*Statistics and facts taken from Ole Miss.com and