By Daniel J. Vance MS, LPC, NCC
Jason Rodie of Gilbert, Arizona, has a dream that won't stop. Right now, he's training 35 hours a week to earn a spot on the U.S. Paralympic team competing in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil. He has cerebral palsy, a permanent disability, which he acquired when accidentally dropped as a four-day-old child.
In a telephone interview, 35-year-old Rodie said, “It affects my left side. When I was younger, my left arm used to be stuck to my chest, my left leg was turned in, and I would drag a toe (when walking). I'm able now to get my foot straight (when walking), but I still limp and can't turn my left palm up.” Today, he has to concentrate hard on every step taken with his left foot.
When he was growing up in Los Angeles, doctors said he would have to use a wheelchair the rest of his life, and later, that he wouldn't be able to play sports. He proved them all wrong. As a child, he wore a leg brace, but never used a wheelchair.
A turning point in his life came in high school, when he was bullied by classmates. He said, “I eventually just started fighting back physically. I don't promote doing that, but it was part of the process that made me a stronger person. (Fighting back) gave me the know-how that I could protect myself. Most bullies are just ignorant. They don't know anything about cerebral palsy.”
Over life, he has worked at many different jobs, but ended them all to begin training for a spot on the U.S. Paralympic team, where the 6'1”, 205-pound Rodie could compete in either long jump or shot put, with shot put his best bet.
He said, “A huge part of having cerebral palsy, or any disability, for that matter, is you have to have your mindset right for anything good to happen. While trying to overcome your disability, if you don't think it can happen, it won't. I was told I would be in a wheelchair and couldn't play sports. But if you believe you can do it, and you work on it, you just might be able to do it. It won't be easy, and may be painful, but you can do it.”
To help pay for his training, he has seven sponsors, including Xyience, an energy drink. He has aspirations of becoming a motivational speaker.
Contact: danieljvance.com [Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod and Palmer Bus Service.]