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Children With Cerebral Palsy

Ben Jackson, The 21-Year-Old Athlete With Cerebral Palsy

"What keeps me going is the fact that I truly believe that I am capable of changing lives. I just want to be someone who is always remembered for leaving the world a better place than when I entered it.”

Ben Jackson is a lot like any other 21-year-old. He’s a full-time college student, a sports enthusiast, and an adventure seeker. But one thing that sets Ben apart is that he has Cerebral Palsy, a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills.

At an early age, doctors were convinced that Ben would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. They were also convinced that he would never walk, attend school, or have a social life, all because of his cerebral palsy.

Ben was always energetic and passionate about sports. The first sport he was heavily involved with was basketball. And although it wasn’t easy for him, Ben showed the determination and work ethic that most kids his age didn’t have. And when Ben was in eight grade, he decided to pick up wrestling. He told BuzzFeed he “started wrestling because he wanted to challenge himself both physically and mentally in one of the most demanding sports out there." He said “In eight grade along with every season that followed, the wrestling coaches had an open practice for anyone that wanted to come try out for the sport. When I first walked into the wrestling room I had no idea what to expect, but I knew if I worked hard then anything was possible.

After losing all 24 matches in his first year, Ben said “the easiest thing to do was quit.” But he didn’t because he saw progress in every match.

“I didn’t know who my competition was going to be, but I know that they weren’t up at 3 a.m. watching wrestling videos. In every match I would get closer to success, even if that meant being on the mat for an extra second than I was in my previous match.”

After that season, Ben trained extremely hard, constantly pushing himself and not settling for anything less. His training regime for wrestling consisted of six days of practice. Training usually included cardio, weight lifting, and wrestling moves. Ben told BuzzFeed that he would work on his moves until they became second nature. “It was intense, but I knew that if I quit, my opponent was just getting started.”

The following year in ninth grade, Ben won his first match. He said “After winning my first match in ninth grade I felt a sense pride in myself, family, coaches and teammates, because without their support that first win would have not been possible.”

Even after accomplishing a major feat, Ben wasn’t finished. When asked what his next step in life is, Ben said that he’s currently training for the 2016 Paralympic Games and working towards a degree in Communications.

“In five years I have hopes of traveling the world and impacting as many lives as possible, not only through my actions, but also through my words. In college I am a Communications major, and I plan on being a motivational speaker.