Inspiring Stories

Janie and LilyJanie is sitting at the kitchen table, engrossed in her artwork. Giraffes and elephants dance across the page as her mom, Ann, rests a gentle hand on her shoulder to get her attention and says, "Janie, can you tell me who the president is?" Janie looks up at her mom and gleefully says "Barack Oh-BAH-ma," drawing out the...

Cerebral Palsy

Jordan Miller is seated alone at a long table in a Baltimore County elementary school. He's a quiet boy of 10 amidst a room of rowdier children playing together, and at first glance looks just like your typical third grader. But he's not.

When Jordan notices his mother, Leah, he smiles widely, happy to see her. When he waves, his hand is clenched awkwardly. The arm that propels it is strangely crooked at the wrist. Both are indications he has cerebral palsy....

Cerebral Palsy

If one were to choose the qualities that a young woman might best rely upon for the journey into adulthood, those qualities might be self assurance, polish and grace - comprising the definition of "poise." Liza Patchel exudes poise in all she does - at home, in college and in her community where she works as a Red Cross volunteer. And so it seems ironic that poise can also be more literally defined as "a state of perfect physical balance," for Liza has cerebral palsy...

Traumatic Brain Injury

For many 12-year-olds, meeting a room full of strangers is intimidating. But not for Mark, who sees such occasions as new opportunities to win over a crowd. Once a promising young performer, Mark hasn't been able to sing, dance, or act since last summer, when he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a Jet-Ski accident. But true charisma knows no physical limitations. When Mark enters a room, he shines.

Not that Mark has given up. Each step in his...

Down syndrome

Melissa is completely at home under the bright lights of a stage, and that's a good thing since she's a professional magician. She and her father Jay perform side by side across the country, and one of their favorite acts tells a story of transformation and compassion.

As the act begins, Melissa shows the audience a seemingly plain black bundle of silk. But as anyone who's seen a magic show knows, things are never as they seem. As the act unfolds, so does the...

Special Education

This summer, I accomplished a dream that few people thought was possible. I was able to walk across the stage to get my high school diploma and then walk down the aisle with my graduating class at Kennedy Krieger High School. Looking out in the crowd to see my mom and friends and teachers standing and clapping for me--it was a moment I'll never forget.

I have cerebral palsy. When I was born, my umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck so tightly that the...

Autism

When Addie Chason was born her parents had big dreams for her future and before long their tiny home seemed too small to contain them. When Addie was 16-months-old, the Chasons found a larger home that seemed just the right place for Addie to grow. It had a yard, a neighborhood full of kids, and a top-notch school nearby.

The Chasons decided to renovate it themselves and in a few short weeks they had painted the interior lovely shades of yellow and blue. Their work...

The playground is a symbol of childhood, a dream of brightly colored slides and ladders, merry-go-rounds and swings. But for some children, like Aidan Gaiser, playgrounds don’t hold the promise of fun. When Aidan was a toddler, he would hover at the edge of the playground, not sure how to play.

His hesitation was a sign of a bigger issue. For his age, Aidan seemed like most children. He knew about seven words, he responded when someone said his name, and he was developing very...