Cerebral palsy is a disability that by no means limits the achievements possible, and these 20 celebrities with CP demonstrate just that …
Although the same can’t be said for early 20th century society, the more modern scene for disabled people has altered completely. What once was a community that caused physical and mental suffering for the disabled is now somewhere where we can all thrive.
These days, a cerebral palsy birth injury is by no means something that should hold anybody back. These 20 celebrities with cerebral palsy demonstrate this perfectly, showing us that we all have a bright future ahead of us…
1. RJ Mitte – Actor and Model
RJ Mitte was born in 1992, through a c-section. At the time of his birth, he was not breathing for a significant period of time, leading to brain damage. He wasn’t diagnosed with cerebral palsy until he reached the age of 3, and utilised crutches and leg braces during his younger years.
Best known for his part in Breaking Bad, playing Walt Junior, RJ Mitte hit the acting scene at the age of 14. The now 27-year-old moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting, and began training with his talent manager, Addison Witt. The two of them sought opportunities which would aim at educating his viewers about his condition.
Now, he is a spokesperson for children diagnosed with CP, and other disabilities, and aims to raise awareness for actors in his position. As someone who has truly made it in the world of acting, he proves that his disability will never hold him back.
2. Maysoon Zayid – Comedian and Actress
Palestinian, Maysoon Zayid, is an American actress and comedian, who’s acting career began with her recurring role in soap opera As the World Turns. She has also worked as an extra in many well-known programmes, including Law and Order and 20/20. Her biggest break came when she was invited to appear as a regular on the Current TV show Countdown with Keith Olbermann
Unfortunately for Zayid, her disability did limit her further advancement in the acting world. But, despite consistent cyberbullying from viewers of the show, she didn’t let this hold her back. Not only does Zayid hold the accolade for being one of the few comedians with cerebral palsy, she’s also America’s first female Muslim comedian.
3. Jhamak Ghimere – Writer
Jhamak Ghimere is a writer, living in Nepal, whose cerebral palsy hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dream career in writing. Although her arms and hands are not as mobile as most writers, she uses her foot to write. This means her career hasn’t been held back by her seeming limitations that, for her, were nothing to combat.
Because of this determination, Ghimere works as a columnist at the Kantipur newspaper, which is a popular publication in many Nepalian cities. Although she cannot speak, her writing does the talking, and her autobiography, roughly translated as Is Life a Thorn or Flower?, has won a number of awards.
4. Bonner Paddock – Athlete
When Bonner was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice. As he grew older, his parents began to notice that he moved differently to other children, and he was finally diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 11.
Before this diagnosis, he always struggled to keep up with his brothers, who were all very athletic, but this didn’t stop him. Now, he’s become an amazing inspiration to children with CP, becoming the first person with cerebral palsy to reach the Kilimanjaro summit. He’s also the first person with CP to have completed the Ironman Triathlon, which has all been documented in the documentary, Beyond Limits, and his memoir, One More Step.
5. Geri Jewell – Comedian, Author, Motivational Speaker, and Actor
63-year-old, Geri Jewell, is an American actress, author, comedian, and motivational speaker who’s known for her starring roles in Deadwood and The Facts of Life. This makes her the first person with cerebral palsy to star on Prime Time TV.
Jewell was three months premature when she was born, after her mother was hit by a car whilst sitting on her porch during pregnancy. This left her with cerebral palsy, which hasn’t stopped her from living a fruitful and exciting life.
In 2011, her autobiography, I’m Walking as Straight as I Can, was published. This discusses her journey pushing the limits of Hollywood with a disability, during a time when this wasn’t a common occurrence.
6. Abbey Nicole Curran – Miss USA
Abbey Nicole Curran was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of two, but this hasn’t stopped her breaking barriers in the world of pageants. She made history after becoming the first Miss USA contestant to compete with disability in 2008.
Since this boundary-breaking feat, she’s made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, discussing her experiences. Now, she works hard to help young girls with special needs to achieve their goals, after setting up the Miss You Can Do It Pageant.
7. Josh Blue – Comedian
American stand-up comedian, Josh Blue, is best known for winning the 2006 series of the NBC reality show, Last Comic Standing. Now, he uses his disability to fuel his comedy, demonstrating to everyone that people with disabilities can make a huge impact.
8. Nicolas Hamilton – Racing Driver
Nicolas Hamilton, half-brother to Lewis Hamilton, was truly inspired by his brother’s skill and performance as a racing driver. After aiming to achieve the same, his dream was accomplished, and he’s now competed in:
- The Renault Clio Cup;
- The European Touring Car Cup;
- And the British Touring Car Championship.
Although his car has had to be modified to allow him to drive effectively with his cerebral palsy, this hasn’t stopped him.
9. Zach Anner – YouTuber and TV Star
Zach Anner became a world-famous TV presenter after gaining his own TV show on the OWN network, called Rollin’ With Zach. This wheelchair travel show not only demonstrates to children with cerebral palsy that they can become an online sensation, it also shows they can travel the world too. His success has led him to garner a huge following on YouTube, alongside other achievements, like writing a book and featuring in the sitcom, Speechless.
10. Jerry Taylor – Athlete
At the age of just six years old, Jerry Taylor received 14 bouts of corrective surgery to treat his cerebral palsy. This left him in the hospital for a whole year, recovering from this bodily trauma.
But, despite the odds, Jerry is another athlete with cerebral palsy, becoming the only person to jog across America using crutches. He has also participated in tens of marathons, as well as climbing to the summit of Pikes Peak, and even parachuting. Travelling the world as a motivational speaker, he discusses the immense freedom he feels, showing young children with CP that the world is their oyster.
11. Anne McDonald – Author
Australian born Anne McDonald developed cerebral palsy as a result of a birth injury, and died in 2010 at the age of 49. As an author, Anne advocated for individuals with communication disabilities, like herself. Despite her severe CP, and completely non-verbal lifestyle, she still left a mark on the world that won’t be forgotten.
12. Eric Gores – Actor
Born into a rich family, Eric Gores is the son of Alec Gores, the billionaire businessman of the firm Gores Group. Despite being mainly famous for his father’s achievements, he still struck out on his own, starring in the 2005 American comedy, The Kid and I, with Tom Arnold.
13. Chris Nolan – Poet and Author
Irish-born author and poet, Christopher Nolan, who was born with CP after being deprived of oxygen for two hours at birth. So, not only did he have cerebral palsy, he was also a quadriplegic. With technology and therapy, he was able to learn to type, which allowed him to become an award-winning writer.
14. Christy Brown – Painter, Poet, and Author
Christy Brown was also an Irish-born poet and author, who also took on painting too. His severe cerebral palsy meant he was incapable of movement or speech for many years. It wasn’t until he gained left-foot control, and with the help of his doting mother, that he learned to read, write, and talk. Now, his autobiography, My Left Foot, and the subsequent film about his life, alongside his best-selling novel, Down All the Days, are his legacy.
15. Sophia Warner – Paralympian
Another athlete, Sophia Warner, became a British Paralympian after starting to run competitively at the age of 19. Her debut in the London 2012 Paralympics, after her classification of CP was included, meant she came 4th in the 200m sprint final. She later became the commercial director of UK Athletics, launched the Para Triathlon Superhero Series, and is an Ambassador for The Children’s Trust.
16. David Ring – Evangelist and Motivational Speaker
David Ring is a Christian evangelist from Nashville, Tennessee, whose motivational speeches about God have gone viral. TV appearances, and a book written by him, are his biggest achievements, but he’s mainly known for his signature phrase, “I have cerebral palsy… What’s your problem?”.
17. Chris Fonseca – Comedian
Comedian, Chris Fonseca, has been working with the comedy club circuit for a decade, using his disability to fuel his comedy, much like Josh Blue. He’s known for discussing his disability in open honesty, claiming that it’s easier to control the narrative of disability on the stage. In real life, he says it’s a lot more difficult.
He’s also known for playing music before he takes to the stage, demonstrating his multiple-faceted talents in front of his audience. He says that comedy has always been the way he’s dealt with this situation, and this has now become a fruitful career.
18. Dan Keplinger – Artist and Motivational Speaker
Dan Keplinger is an artist and motivational speaker with CP, who became better-known after featuring in the Oscar-winning documentary short, King Gimp. After a birth injury caused his cerebral palsy, he experienced special education, transitioning to public school later. Here was where he discovered his love for art, and the rest is history.
19. Francesca Martinez – Comedian and Actor
Francesca Martinez is a stand-up comedian and actress, who can be recognised from her starring role in Ricky Gervais’ series, Extras. She also starred in Grange Hill when she was younger, and has now been recognised as one of the top 50 funniest acts in British comedy, by The Observer.
20. Dr. Janice E. Brunstrom-Hernandez – Paediatric Neurologist
Dr. Janice E. Brunstrom-Hernandez had little chance of surviving at birth, and was told she’d be unable to talk or walk. She beat the odds, and now works as a paediatric neurologist, helping children with cerebral palsy to live their lives the best they can.
Cerebral Palsy Has No Limitations
These celebrities just go to show that, despite the societal expectations of people with cerebral palsy, absolutely anything is possible. Even those with severe cases of CP, who are unable to move or speak, have proved they could make waves in their field. What’s to say you can’t too?
This is a collaborative post.