Celebrating-World Cerebral Palsy Day

Today, October 6th, is World Cerebral Palsy Day!

Although there are many disabilities affecting people in the world today, I must say, I’m partial to cerebral palsy (CP). I have CP and even though it poses its daily challenges, I take full ownership of it. I’m not here to inspire the world just because I have this unique disability; instead, I believe I was put on the earth to make things happen just like so many others with CP.

It makes me so happy seeing others taking ownership of their CP and making a mark in the world.

I was born in the early 70’s and loved watching sitcoms like Three’s Company, Good Times, The Jefferson’s, Happy Days and The Brady Bunch. Another one of my favorite’s shows was The Facts of Life. The Facts of Life was the first show where I saw an actress with CP. Actress and stand-up comedian, Ann “Geri” Jewell, played Cousin Geri to actress Lisa Whelchel, who played Blair. Ann was very funny and had CP. I loved every episode she was in because I saw myself in her.

Comedian Josh Blue who has CP, won Last Comic Standing in 2006. Josh recently competed in this season’s America’s Got Talent show. Although, he didn’t win, he did come in third place, and now more people know his name. I bet he becomes an even bigger star than he was before. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Josh do stand up in-person, like I have, you’re missing out; he’s hilarious! I love Josh’s comedy for it’s mostly about him living with CP, yet it’s raw, real, informative, and very funny.

For those of you that don’t know, I was Ms. Wheelchair Ohio 2008. Competing was a great experience and I met many amazing women during my reign. As a teenage girl, I loved tuning into the Miss USA pageant. All the women were beautiful and smart. The only thing that was disappointing about the national televised event was, I had not seen a woman with CP competing until 2008, when Abby Nicole Curran took the stage. Abby, who represented the great state of Iowa, made history as the first woman with a disability to compete in the pageant. Not only did Abby represent her state well, she also represented people with cerebral palsy too. You could say it was a coincidence that Abby and myself received our titles the same year. I prefer to think it was fate, because I was over the moon to see a woman on the big screen with CP doing the same thing I was doing on a smaller circuit.

Cerebral Palsy is often looked upon as a life sentence of difficulties. Recently, I’ve seen many advertisements of law firms willing to take cases if a person’s child was born with CP. I do understand that every expecting parent wants their child to be “typical”.   But when that doesn’t happen, thoughts of doubt for a “full” life sets in.

Take it from me, CP hasn’t stopped anything in my life that I’ve wanted to do. Yes, it may take me more time, but I get it done. Learning to live with CP and having a heart full of giving thanks, has made me a happy person and, for that, I’m happy to celebrate my peers for doing the same.

4 comments on “Celebrating-World Cerebral Palsy Day

  1. Margie Wehner on

    Thanks for sharing your personal insights, Shari. I will say that you’re one of the happiest and most positive people I know, and I have seen you accomplish several of your dreams.

  2. Tracy Craig on

    This is a great article, Shari! It showed me how much we have in common– growing up during the same era and enjoying the same funny sitcoms. “Facts of Life” was one of my favorites and I remember the cousin with CP. You have a great, personal style that resonates with so many people. And it goes to show that you having CP doesn’t make you any more different from me than anyone else. In fact, you and I have a LOT in common…it just isn’t CP. With other people, we may have other factors in common, but maybe not race, maybe not the city where we lived as kids. The key is: You can find commonality with people if you try. I appreciate you for going the extra mile everyday so that people get to see you– and others with visible differences– for more than what is apparent.


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