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Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. CP is caused by brain damage, usually before birth. The damage can occur during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly after birth. CP affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills

The severity of CP varies widely, from mild to severe. Children with CP may have difficulty with muscle coordination, balance, and fine motor skills. Treatment for CP often involves physical therapy, occupational therapy, and sometimes surgery.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some famous people with cerebral palsy who have found success in their field.

Justin Gallegos 

Justin Gallegos, professional athlete with CP

Justin Gallegos has built his life on proving that the impossible is nothing. As a child, the professional athlete struggled to walk, relying on crutches to get around. Those days seem like a distant memory today as a Nike-sponsored runner who competes in half and full marathons. 

Justin began running in high school as a way to improve the symptoms of his cerebral palsy. He eventually won the state’s 400-meter Paralympic championship race. Gallegos even completed a marathon in Chicago in 2019.

He works closely with Nike, for whom he is the first professionally-signed athlete with cerebral palsy. He is helping to develop condition-appropriate footwear and elevate the opportunities for others with cerebral palsy. 

Nicolas Hamilton 

Nicolas Hamilton, famous driver

This accomplished British Touring Car Championship driver spent his early years in a wheelchair. After years of intense training, it was only at the age of seventeen that Hamilton was able to walk by himself. Hamilton’s racing journey beyond that has been incredible!

Nicolas Hamilton is the first driver with a disability to earn a point in the championship. And while he may be the first, he has no intention of being the last. Nicolas started a school for disabled drivers, inspiring others with cerebral palsy to do the same.” 

RJ Mitte 

RJ Mitte, actor with cerebral palsy

Mitte starred as Walter Jr in Breaking Bad, one of the greatest television series of all time. He appears in the majority of episodes, from the first episode right through to the last. Following the conclusion of the series, Mitte acted in a host of television and movie productions. He also modeled for brands including Gap and Viviene Westwood. 

As with many people living with cerebral palsy, Mitte spent his childhood years walking with the aid of leg braces and crutches. Eventually, his body became strong enough for him to walk on his own, and this new movement took him straight to Hollywood.

Mitte also spends his time raising awareness for the challenges that disabled people face in the acting world.

Dan Keplinger

famous artist with cerebral palsy, Dan Keplinger

Dan Keplinger, an artist, has been involved in the arts since an early age. At the age of nine, he was featured in the documentary Beginning With a Bong. In his late teens, he was the star of a second documentary titled King Gimp, which chronicled his journey into independent life. 

He continues to make internationally acclaimed art. He also works as a motivational speaker, helping to educate audiences about the struggles he faces with cerebral palsy.

Keplinger has said, “Many of us are likely to get discouraged during difficult times in our lives. In my work, I hope to show everybody that they have the ability to persevere.”

Bonner Paddock 

Bonner Paddock 

Bonner Paddock serves as an inspiration for people of all backgrounds, not only those with cerebral palsy. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age eleven, Paddock did not let his condition, dictate his life.

In 2008, Paddock was the first person with CP to complete an unassisted climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. This incredible feat helped raise more than $250,000 for a charity that provides physiotherapy for children with cerebral palsy.

Since then, Paddock has continued to complete incredible achievements, including completing the Ironman Triathlon. Finishing was another first for someone with cerebral palsy and earned more than $700,000 for CP charities. 

Jhamak Ghimire 

Jhamak Ghimire, famous writer with cerebral palsy

Jhamah Ghimire was born to write. As a young girl, Jhamak faced extreme discrimination for her disabilities. However, she managed to write a best-selling memoir using her feet.

Her memoir, Is Life a Thorn or Flower, became a best-seller in Nepal. She won the country’s most prestigious literary prize.

She continues to write poetry and essays and has become a household name in her native country. Her journey has been more difficult than most since. She didn’t have access to many of the treatments and support that are available in the United States.

Jhamak says that when was teaching herself to write, the process was so grueling that her feet often bled. Today, she’s a celebrated figure who has found a way to communicate her experiences with the world. 

Geri Jewell

Geri Jewell

Geri Jewell was a groundbreaking figure in the television industry. Her role in, The Facts of Life was the first time that a disabled person had a recurring role in a hit tv show. In the decades that have passed, Jewell also became an accomplished comedian and writer. 

Jewell’s journey is remarkable because she didn’t know she was influencing popular culture while living with a disability. She did not realize the impact she was making.

She just decided she wanted to act and make people laugh. Geri is a testament to the view that if you believe in yourself and do the work, then anything is possible. 

Zach Anner 

Zach Anner 

Zach Anner skyrocketed to superstardom after he appeared on the show, Oprahs Search for the Next TV Star. Following his highly acclaimed performance, Anner hosted his own television show entitled Rollin’ With Zach, which ran in 2011.

Today, the New Yorker has a large and loyal YouTube following. He has also worked on scripts based on individuals with cerebral palsy, such as the ABC show Speechless

Sophia Warner

athlete with cerebral palsy, Sophia Warner

Sophia Warner has been exceptionally successful in athletics. However, she will perhaps be best known for her advocacy work. Warner won second place at the IPC Athletics World Championships in 2011.

After that, she decided to help people with cerebral palsy get involved in sports. For her efforts, she was awarded the British Empire Medal. 

Maysoon Zayid 

Maysoon Zayid, comedian with cerebral palsy

Maysoon Zayid, an American actress and comedian, has found huge success in the show business world. Rather than viewing her condition as a disability, she uses it as the fuel for her comedy musings. and her inspiration to succeed in a hyper-competitive industry.

Zayid not only appeared on TV shows but also helped create comedy festivals like the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival. She has also become an advocate for anti-cyberbullying.

People have viewed her 2014 TedTalk, I Got 99 Problems…Palsy is Just One, more than eleven million times. 

Conclusion

We have seen many people with cerebral palsy who have become extremely successful in their careers. Modern treatments have made it more possible than ever for people with cerebral palsy to live a full, successful life.

For more information check out:

Cerebral Palsy Guide

Early signs of developmental delays

Christy Brown: My Left Foot

People with Disabilities

As always, Learn Bright champions children of all abilities! Please check out our free lesson plans and videos.