Cerebral palsy is quite complicated and can appear with different levels of severity, as well as a variety of different symptoms. Listed below are brief biographies of famous individuals that suffer from cerebral palsy. These individuals all refuse to allow this disease to define them and choose to create a meaningful life for themselves in spite of this obstacle.
This award winning performer, author and motivational speaker has worldwide recognition for being the first person suffering from cerebral palsy to be cast in a prime time series. Geri Jewell stars on NBC’s The Facts of Life, acting as a role model for millions in the LGBT youth community and for those with cerebral palsy. She has also written a critically-claimed autobiography. The following video showcases Geri Jewell in “The Facts of Life.”
Josh Blue is a comedian that won the fourth season of Last Comic Standing in America which aired in May-August of 2006. His comedy sheds light on living with cerebral palsy, how he deals with the disease and how others view him. Blue revealed that he appeared on the program to “make people aware of the fact that people with disabilities can make an impact.” The following video showcases Josh the Disabled Comedian:
Abby Nicole Curran
Since representing Iowa in the Miss USA pageant in 2008 in Las Vega, Abbey Curran has appeared on a variety of programs including the Ellen show. Curran was also chairman of “The Miss You Can Do It Pageant” that she founded, offering young girls and women that have special needs or challenges an opportunity to compete in pageants like anyone else.
The following video shows Abbey Curran on Ellen:
Roy Frank “RJ” Mitte III is an actor that is most well-known for playing Walter White, Jr. (Flynn) on Breaking Bad on AMC. His character on the show also has mild cerebral palsy. He moved to Hollywood in 2006 where he started working with a talent manager and sought out acting opportunities in hopes that he could find a role that would educate viewers about the disease. This prompted his audition for Breaking Bad.
This comedian has worked for the American Comedy Club, writing material for Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Arnold and others. He is the only person with a visible disability to act as an entertainer on The Late Night Show with David Letterman in the 18 year history of the program. Fonseca uses his cerebral palsy as the base for many of his stories and works to break down preconceived barriers about the disease.
Dr. Janice Brunstrom
This pediatric neurologist specializes in cerebral palsy while serving at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital at Washington University. She is considered to be one of the leading scientists into research on the disease. Dr. Brunstrom is the only pediatric neurologist with cerebral palsy in the United States. She founded the sole comprehensive pediatric cerebral palsy center in the United States and actively works to correct misconceptions about the disease.
This Irish painter, poet and author was born on June 5, 1932 and suffered from a form of cerebral palsy that limited his control over physical movements and speech. By the age of 5, Brown was able to gain a great deal of control over his left foot, mostly due to his mother provoking and talking to him about overcoming his disorder. Over time his mother also taught him the alphabet so Brown could spell out words and read. Christy Brown is most well-known for his autobiography My Left Foot.
Ann McDonald, an Australian author, developed a severe form of athetoid cerebral palsy at 3, for which she was placed in an institution designed for those with severe disabilities. During this time, Rosemary Crossley opted to use McDonald as the subject for an experiment for a literacy project. During this project, Crossley helped her to learn to read by using a facilitated communication system that encouraged McDonald to point to colors, followed by words and letters. Ann McDonald then went on to work as an activist for the rights of disabled persons.
Nolan is a well-known Irish author and poet that produced his first publication at 15, which won the Whitbread Book Award among others. He developed cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation when he was born. As a young child, Nolan’s father read him passages and told him stories to stimulate his mind and his mother hung the letters of the alphabet in the kitchen so Nolan could participate in streams of conversation. He would also frequently act out skits and sing songs with his sister.
This man was born in Scituate, which was once a part of Rhode Island. In 1774 he was an attendee of the first Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence in 2 years later. He was known for recording his name by controlling his right hand trembling by his left hand due to the effects of his cerebral palsy. When signing the Declaration of Independence Hopkins noted “My hand trembles, my heart does not.”