Cerebral Palsy, My Writing

Who I Am

There’s a difference between the things I am and the things I have.

I have a walker that I use to get around, I have knee-high braces that give me the support I need to walk, and I have cerebral palsy, a disability which impairs movement and makes completing every day tasks a challenge. I have all of these things, but I am none of these things.

I am a Gator. From the time I was little, I have bled orange and blue. Back home, I was known for wearing orange and blue every day, despite living in the heart of Bulldog country. I didn’t care that I received daily commentary on it, with people asking if it was laundry day and informing me that I should be wearing something else- anything else. I love UF, and that love has created memories I’ll hold onto forever and relationships I will always cherish. That’s who I am. I am not my disability.

I am a fighter. From the time I was born, I’ve had to fight for what I have. I fought to stay alive for thirty days in a Pensacola hospital as a newborn. I fought to prove doctors wrong when they told my parents I wouldn’t walk, I wouldn’t talk, I wouldn’t be the young woman I am today. I fought to get here, overcoming obstacles, breaking walls, and turning a deaf ear to the people who told me I couldn’t handle the University of Florida, and that it would be better for me to take classes online. I am the girl who has jumped hurdles and proved people wrong her entire life, and that will never change. That’s who I am. I am not my disability.

I am a storyteller. From the time I was little, I have poured my thoughts onto paper, creating new worlds and bringing to life ideas that once only existed in my mind. But a few years ago, I began telling a different story: my own. I began sharing about my CP and the struggles I face, and I began to see the power that comes with being honest. Sharing my story has opened doors and created relationships that will make my dreams a reality. But beyond that, it has allowed me to do something else: make a difference. I share my story to show others that nothing is impossible and even the greatest odds can be overcome. That is who I am. I am not my disability, and it does not define me.

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Cerebral Palsy, Florida Gators, My Writing, thoughts

Either

She asked me

If I was going to wear my wristband in Gainesville

I said,

“Yes I am. They can deal with it.”

I may bleed orange and blue,

But it’s not the only university with a special place in my heart.

He’s a part of my life,

And I have no intention of hiding it.

You see, it brings a bigger issue to the forefront:

UF accepted me.

All of me.

My fears,

My hopes,

My scars,

My dreams.

And they made me realize something:

People either accept me,

Or they don’t.

They either understand that I have a passion for sports,

Or they’re not true friends.

They either handle the fact that I use a walker,

Or they’re not people I want to be around.

They either accept that my cerebral palsy has built me into who I am

Or they don’t deserve a place in my life.

Cerebral Palsy, Faith

Smile

Usually, I don’t post for the Weekly Photo Challenge-because photography isn’t my strong suit- but when I saw this week’s prompt was smile, I had to participate, because I have the perfect picture for it.

This one.

I love this picture, not only because it forever captured the moment I met Tim Tebow, but because the smile on his face reflects how I felt in that moment: pure, complete, beautiful joy.

I’ve never felt anything quite like that before. The trip to his foundation’s Celebrity Golf Classic was a surprise birthday present from a friend, who knew how much I look up to Timmy (which is how he introduced himself). I’d wanted to meet him for years, and the moment was even more incredible than I’d always thought. The kindness and warmth he treated me with made my nerves fall away, and I knew instantly that my disability didn’t matter to him. To him, I was just Robyn.

I thought the story would end there, but it didn’t. Six months later, he and his foundation granted my W15H to spend time with him. I loved having the opportunity to talk with him, and at one point, I showed him the picture my friend had taken. He loved it too, so much that he posted it on Instagram later that night.

Over the last four years, he and his foundation have done more than grant my W15H. They’ve made me a part of their family. They’re there through everything, offering prayer, encouragement, and always showering me in so much love. This past March, they invited me to their Celebrity Gala-always held the night before the golf tournament- to interview the celebrities as they entered on the red carpet. I loved it. I talked to everyone from Mark Stuart of Audio Adrenaline to ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt to Florida’s new head football coach, Dan Mullen. And when Timmy walked in and saw me, his face lit up. He made a beeline for me, coming up to wrap me in a hug as soon as we saw each other.

That night I witnessed generosity unlike anything I’ve ever seen before as I watched a crowd of around 300 people donate 1.3 million dollars to the foundation, all of which goes towards helping kids with special needs and life threatening illnesses. I was blown away. It was beautiful to see, but to me that exemplifies what makes Timmy and his foundation so special: they put smiles on the faces of millions of people, day in and day out.

Timmy posted this of him and country singer Eric Church with some of the kids he and TTF invited to the gala.

Cerebral Palsy, My Writing

Sometimes I Wonder

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to walk independently. I wonder how it would feel to stand up straight without being overcome with fear, and what it would be like to take a step without being confined by the mold of plastic braces. I wonder, are tennis shoes comfortable?

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to take off running, whenever I want. How would it feel to have wind fly through my hair? Would it be exhilarating? Would I hate it? Would I feel like I was flying? Would I feel… free?

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be able to play sports. I live and breathe them- I wonder what it would feel like to be able to play. What would it be like, to run out of a tunnel surrounded by my teammates? What would it feel like to score the winning points in the final seconds of a game? What would it be like to be a part of something that means… everything to me?

Sometimes I wonder who I would be if I didn’t have cerebral palsy. Would I like the same things? Who would I be friends with? What experiences would I have? As much as I wonder and as much as I want to know the answer to those questions, the bottom line is this: without my disability, I wouldn’t be the same person. I wouldn’t have met the same people and I wouldn’t have done the same things. My disability has opened doors and given me experiences I otherwise never would have had, and it’s led me to people I love dearly and am beyond grateful for. Without my disability, I wouldn’t be… me.

My Writing

Some People Come Into Our Lives: A Poem

I’m reposting this tonight out of gratitude for the amazing people in my life. I hope you enjoy.

Some people come into our lives,

And leave a mark

That can never be erased.

They touch our hearts

In a more profound way

Than we ever expected

Or imagined.

They come into our lives,

Unexpectedly,

Without warning,

And fill our days and minds,

With a light

That is pure

And golden

And beautiful.

Those people are rare,

Those people are special,

Those people are gifts

To be cherished

And held dear.

They come into our lives

And leave a mark

That can never be erased.

They touch our hearts

In such a profound way

That we

Are never the same.

Cerebral Palsy, My Writing

Underestimated

Well. A week in and I’ve already missed two posting dates. That’s an auspicious start, isn’t it?

For tonight’s post, I thought I would share something I wrote about overcoming people’s perceptions of my cerebral palsy and consequently, the ability I have to do things. As you’ll be able to see, I don’t like being told I can’t do something. This is entitled “Underestimated.” Please let me know what you think in the comments!

I’m done with being underestimated.

I’m sick of people saying, “You can’t do this. You aren’t strong enough. You’re not ready.” For years, I have listened to this. For years I have been weak, and unable, and not what they want. Well, you know what?

I’m done.

I’m done with being told where to go, what to do, and how to do it. Let me make one thing clear:

I may have a disability, but I am not my disability.

Do you hear me?

I have cerebral palsy.

I have a walker.

I have braces.

But I am not those things.

I am strong.

I am the girl who endured three weeks in a hospital, who put up with needles, who was hit with a shock of pain every time she took a breath for days. I did that.

I am brave.

I am the girl who said, “I know it will hurt. Do it. It will be worth it.” I am the girl who stood in front of a crowd and poured out my heart. I am the girl who let go of my walker and stood, despite the fact that I was scared to death. I did that.

I am ambitious. I am the girl who let my walls down and showed him my heart. I am the girl who stood in front of a table and answered every single question they asked. I did that.

I did all of those things. I did them and I have accomplished the things I have because of who I am. Do you hear me? Those things happened because I am Robyn and because God is good, and for no other reason.

Oh. And one more thing. Don’t you dare tell me I don’t have what it takes to live my dreams. Don’t you dare say I’m better off stuck at home sitting behind a computer. Don’t you dare say I can’t do it. Because let me tell you one more thing I do: I prove people wrong.

She thought I couldn’t handle that day. I walked every step of that parade. I pushed through the pain and worked through the exhaustion. I did it.

She said I wouldn’t be walking for two months. I was back in my walker and getting around after three weeks. Despite the fact that it felt like knives were being pushed in my back and I could barely balance, I walked.

They thought I wouldn’t live. They told my parents I wasn’t going to make it and if I did, they said I wouldn’t talk, I wouldn’t walk, I wouldn’t think… they said I wouldn’t be what I am today, which is a strong, intelligent, beautiful young woman who has the potential to do whatever she wants to do.

If you only remember one thing I’ve said, remember this: I will live my dreams. Don’t you dare forget that.