Perhaps surprisingly, running is not only possible for some cerebral palsy sufferers, but it can actually be helpful to their condition. Looking a Andy Sullman, an 18-year-old runner with CP is a perfect case in point. He trained and completed a marathon. According to Sullman, running actually helps him overcome his symptoms of cerebral palsy – making him stronger – something his traditional physical therapy is unable to achieve to the same level. His mother points out that running has given him independence and normalcy and that it can inspire other CP sufferers.
In more recent news, it seems that Sullman isn’t alone in his desire and determination to run despite having to deal with cerebral palsy symptoms. In Louisville, 24-year-old Brian Heyburn who was born with cerebral palsy recently ran the 13.1 mile mini marathon. Physical therapist Lisa Campbell said, “if Brian can do this, shame on us if we say we can’t.” In addition to helping himself, he has been heling others through his running – his marathon raised money for the Kids Center. He explained, “I really feel lucky to be a part of the Kids Center and also be able to benefit from the therapy that I received there to do something like this.” He feels he is neither disabled nor handicapped, and he will be studying for a masters in Disabilities and Human Development at the University of Illinois in the Fall.
Another inspiring story is that of Ben Colmen, the teen runner with cerebral palsy who recently got a social media resurgence on Facebook for his achievements. When Colmen was born with the condition, his parents never imagined he would ever even walk. But Ben shocked everyone and went running. It became his passion and his very reason for getting out of bed in the morning, as he said it provided him with “a place to belong.” He just had a dream that most boys his age took for granted; to be part of a team. Initially, his cerebral palsy was hampering his dream, but eventually the cross country team at his school, the Hannah Yellowjackets, offered him a spot. During Ben’s last year with the team, it won Best in the Region for the first time 13 years.
There are numerous stories of hope for people with disabilities. These three individuals show the particular strength of these fine young men experiencing fantastic milestones in their lives, in spite of living with cerebral palsy.