Overcoming the Odds

Zack - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on October 21, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in myself. From the moment I was born, I was doubted. “He has a 7% chance of living.” the doctors told my parents. The sheer grit and determination I exerted was unlike anything the doctors had ever seen. Each day of my two month stay in the hospital, I was poke, pumped, and prodded with feeding tubes, and IVs. The doctors said to my parents that once I was released from the hospital, the problems that I faced would only become more widespread. They said I would need constant care for the rest of my life with no hope of living independently.

When I was younger I believed what the doctors told me. “What’s wrong with you? Are you broken?” kids asked everyday on the playground. I would instantly cry. I just could not understand why people were so curious and why I was not like the other kids. As I got older, doctors only got more vicious. “He won’t play sports, he won’t socialize, he won’t walk, he won’t be normal, just like all the other kids with cerebral palsy.”

Feeding off the doctors’ untrue words and the fact that I was told my own limitations, I became determined to prove the orthopedist, pediatrician, surgeon, and rest of the world wrong.

I began the first grade with a sense of self-righteousness and an air of confidence. I was out to prove to myself that I could do whatever I wanted. Then, the perfect opportunity presented itself.

Next door lived twin boys my age that I had always idolized. Their dangerous habit as well as their blatant disregard for safety characterized by going down a hill face-first on an old skateboard was something I always dreamed of. I mustered up the courage to ask if I could try. They obliged, wanting to see how badly I could hurt myself. I laid down on the board and took off. I began to feel free and independent when, “WHAM!” I smacked into a nearby car and crumpled to the ground. My new-found friends peeled me off the pavement and dragged me home. I had a forehead that was black and blue for weeks, but a permanent friendship.

Second grade would start the next challenge: sports. I had always loved to kick the soccer ball around with my dad, but organized sports were new world to me. I started playing defense, but my awkward feet and lack of lower body strength would prevent me from making any impact on the field. However, this would change.

One game our goalie gouged a chunk of skin out of his knee after landing on a rock. The coach put me in begrudgingly. The first ball came towards me I dove and tipped it away with my fingertips. This event would shape five more seasons and foster more confidence.

As success would come my way, doubts would be shot down and I realized: It doesn’t matter what other people think because I believe in me.