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Famous People with Cerebral Palsy

A list of well known and famous persons both living and deceased who have lived with Cerebral Palsy.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. Signs and symptoms vary among people. Often, symptoms include poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles, and tremors. There may be problems with sensation, vision, hearing, swallowing, and speaking.

Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal development or damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, balance, and posture. Most often the problems occur during pregnancy; however, they may also occur during childbirth, or shortly after birth.

The incidence of cerebral palsy is about 2 per 1000 live births. The incidence is higher in males than in females.

All types of CP are characterised by abnormal muscle tone, posture (i.e. slouching over while sitting), reflexes, or motor development and coordination. There can be joint and bone deformities and contractures (permanently fixed, tight muscles and joints). The classical symptoms are spasticity, spasms, other involuntary movements (e.g. facial gestures), unsteady gait, problems with balance, and/or soft tissue findings consisting largely of decreased muscle mass.

Babies born with severe CP often have an irregular posture; their bodies may be either very floppy or very stiff. Birth defects, such as spinal curvature, a small jawbone, or a small head sometimes occur along with CP. Symptoms may appear, change, or become more severe as a child gets older. Some babies born with CP do not show obvious signs right away.

There is no known cure for CP. Medical intervention is limited to the treatment and prevention of complications possible from CP's consequences.

Famous People with Cerebral Palsy
Abbey Nicole Curran pictureAbbey Nicole Curran - (born 1987) - Abbey Curran represented Iowa at the Miss USA 2008 pageant in Las Vegas, held on April 11, 2008. Curran was born with Cerebral Palsy. She and has made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, CBS The Early Show, Inside Edition, Access Hollywood, Extra, and CNN Headline News. Curran is the current chairman of her own non-profit pageant "The Miss You Can Do It Pageant" for young girls and women with special needs and challenges. Diagnosed at age 2, Abbey Curran wants other girls like her to know they can compete like anyone else.
Anne McDonald pictureAnne McDonald - (11 January 1961 - 22 October 2010) - An Australian author and an activist for the rights of people with communication disability. As a result of a birth injury she developed severe athetoid cerebral palsy. She was diagnosed as having severe intellectual disability and at the age of three was placed by her parents in St. Nicholas Hospital, Melbourne, a Health Commission (government) institution for people with severe disability, and lived there without education or therapy for eleven years. Anne wrote her story in Annie's Coming Out, a book she co-authored with Rosemary Crossley in 1980 (the film Annie's Coming Out based on the book won several Australian Film Institute awards and was released in the U.S. under the title Test of Love).
Bonner Paddock pictureBonner Paddock - Born with Cerebral Palsy, Bonner Paddock lived his early years playing sports as if he didn't have a disability at all. He was not accurately diagnosed until the age of 11, and even received news he not might make to his 20th birthday. As an adult with cerebral palsy, he became the first person with Cerebral Palsy to reach the summit of the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, Mt. Kilimanjaro, unassisted, to demonstrate that life without limits is possible. This achievement was documented in the film Beyond Limits, narrated by Michael Clarke Duncan in 2009. Bonner tackled the climb with the determination and vigor that has defined his life. OM Foundation (OMF) is the progression of Bonner Paddock's overall mission, which had little to do with individual success and everything to do with aiding others in constructing the first learning center to serve children with and without disabilities in Orange County and across the globe.
Chris Fonseca pictureChris Fonseca - Comedian. Works the American comedy club circuit and has written material for such comedians as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Roseanne Arnold. Chris Fonseca is the first (and only) person with a visible disability to entertain on The Late Night Show with David Letterman, something that had not been done in the show's 18 year history. Chris allows his Cerebral Palsy to be the foundation of many of his stories. He notes that this helps to break down many preconceived barriers about CP. He has released 2 CDs, 1997's Not Tonight, I Have Cerebral Palsy and 2001's Get in the Van.
Chris Nolan pictureChris Nolan - (6 September 1965 - 20 February 2009) - Christopher Nolan is an Irish author. He moved to Dublin for an education.He was educated at the Central Remedial Clinic School, Mount Temple Comprehensive School and at Trinity College, Dublin. He was born with cerebral palsy, from birth complications, and writes using a special computer. He had been deprived of oxygen for two hours when he was born, but his mother believed he could understand what was going on and used to teach him at home. Eventually, they discovered a drug that allowed him to move one muscle in his neck so they attached this unicorn device to his forehead and he learned to type. Nolan has never spoken or signed a word in his life, yet his poetry has been compared to that of Joyce, Keats, and Yeats. At fifteen, his first book Dam-Burst of Dreams was accepted for publication.
Christy Brown pictureChristy Brown - (June 5, 1932 - September 6, 1981) was an Irish author, painter and poet. The Academy Asard winning film My Left Foot profiled his life. Christy Brown had cerebral palsy and was incapable for years of deliberate movement or speech. Doctors considered him to be mentally disabled as well. However, his mother continued to speak to him, work with him, and try to teach him until he famously snatched a piece of chalk from his sister with his left foot to make a mark on the floor. He was about five years old and only his left foot responded to his will. His mother then taught him the alphabet and he laboriously copied each letter, holding chalk between his toes. He learned to spell out words and finally to read.
Dan Keplinger pictureDan Keplinger - (19 Jan 1973) Artist with cerebral palsy - Featured in the Oscar-winning documentary short, King Gimp. After attending a school for disabled children, he was mainstreamed into Parkville High School in Maryland at age 16. He is a 1998 graduate of Towson University with a major in mass communication. Dan visits schools as a guest motivational speaker. He shows that with some determination, you can achieve anything you desire. Keplinger says this about his art - "At a glance my work seems to be about my perception in society and how I overcome it. I include images of my wheelchair because it is my main mode of conveyance and a major part of my daily life, but these pieces are about much more than my disability. Obstacles and challenges are a universal part of the human condition. We all face them in everyday life, however we also have a choice as to how we deal with them. Many of us are likely to get discouraged during difficult times in our lives. In my work I hope to show everybody that they have the ability to persevere. When I start a piece, I just think of what I have to say and not who is going to view it. I know people are not going to view my work as I do, but everyone can get the overall message."
David Ring - (born October 28, 1953) - A Christian evangelist and motivational speaker who has cerebral palsy. Since 1973, Ring has challenged thousands of people with his signature message - "I have cerebral palsy... What's your problem?" He currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife and four children.
Dr. Janice Brunstrom pictureDr. Janice Brunstrom - Pediatric neurologist specializing in Cerebral Palsy at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University. She is the only pediatric neurologist in the U.S. who also has Cerebral Palsy, and she is one of the leading scientists in CP research. She started and leads the only comprehensive pediatric CP Center in the country. One of her causes includes correcting common misconceptions about cerebral palsy including the following: Cerebral palsy is hopeless; Cerebral palsy means low intelligence; Children with cerebral palsy do not need to stand; Strengthening their spastic muscles will make them worse; and Physicians cannot do anything about these children's vision problems.
Eric Gores pictureEric Gores - (born 1983) - Gores was educated in Holland, Michigan. He attended West Ottawa High School and graduated in 2004. The son of billionaire Alec Gores and former neighbor of actor Tom Arnold. In 2005, Gores co-starred in a film written by Arnold, The Kid & I. Eric was born with cerebral palsy. Gores wanted to be an actor since age 6, when he entertained his sisters by mimicking TV personalities. He refused to allow anything, including cerebral palsy, to prevent his dream from coming true.
Geri Jewell pictureGeri Jewell - (born September 13, 1956) - Comedian and Actress. Appeared on The Facts of Life television show. Geri Jewell is an actor and comedian born with cerebral palsy. She is most famous for her roles on the television program The Facts of Life. and on HBO's Deadwood. Geri brings to her presentations personal experience of having her behavior and actions misunderstood because of her cerebral palsy. Geri Jewell is said to be a pioneer for comedians with disabilities.
Hermann of Reichenau pictureHermann of Reichenau - (1013 July 18 - 1054 September 24) - also called Hermannus Contractus or Hermannus Augiensis or Herman the Cripple. 11th century scholar, composer, music theorist, mathematician, and astronomer. He composed the Marian prayer Alma Redemptoris Mater. He was beatified in 1863. He was crippled by a paralytic disease from early childhood. He was born with a cleft palate, cerebral palsy and spina bifida. As a result, he had great difficulty moving and could hardly speak.
Jerry Traylor pictureJerry Traylor - A motivational speaker with cerebral palsy. He is the only person to jog across America on crutches. Traylor underwent 14 corrective surgeries and spent nearly a year in the hospital when he was 6 years old. When crutches replaced the braces holding his legs at age 14, Traylor said he experienced a sense of freedom that was unbelievable. Traylor has also participated in the running of 35 marathons, climbed to the top of 14,110 foot Pike's Peak, parachuting and other adventures.
Jhamak Ghimire pictureJhamak Ghimire - (born July 1980) - A poet and writer from Nepal who has won many awards for her writing of literature. Jhamak Ghimire is Nepal's equal of Helen Keller. Born in 1980 with cerebral palsy, Ghimire's desire led her to learn to read and write. She went on to become one of the leading and well respected literary figures of Nepal. She has also become a symbol of courage to people with disabilities around the world.
John Quinn pictureJohn Quinn - In his debut release Someone Like Me - An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy, John tells the incredible story of despite being born with cerebral palsy, how he pursued his boyhood dream of a career in the United States Navy. John kept his CP a secret during his entire military career. John's powerful story of overcoming numerous life challenges has enthralled audiences around the country. A natural storyteller, John's ability to connect with any audience sets him apart -
Josh Blue pictureJosh Blue - (born November 27, 1978) is an American comedian who was voted the Last Comic Standing on NBC's reality show Last Comic Standing during its fourth season, which aired May-August, 2006. Josh Blue has cerebral palsy and many of his jokes center on living with his disability, how he deals with it and how other people view him. He coined the term "palsy punch" during his final set of the final round of the show, when he said that the palsy punch is effective in a fight because "first of all, they don't know where the punch is coming from, and second of all, neither do I." Blue also joked that signing an autograph takes 45 minutes, and that to write down his phone number he has to find a "big ole' stack of paper." More information on Josh Blue - The Comedian with Cerebral Palsy.
Karen Ann Killilea pictureKaren Ann Killilea - (born August 18, 1940) - is the subject of two bestselling books by her mother Marie Killilea, Karen and With Love from Karen. These books were groundbreaking in their assertion that children with cerebral palsy could be raised to lead productive lives. Karen Killilea was born three months prematurely and as a result of her prematurity, she developed cerebral palsy. After she was diagnosed, Karen's parents decided to actively raise her at home, contrary to the advice of doctors to commit her to an asylum and forget her. After visiting at least 23 doctors, they found one who taught them to do physical therapy with Karen (then a radical concept), which they did for six hours per day for over ten years. Karen learned to walk with crutches, write, and use her arms and legs. She developed into a fairly happy teen and adult who has been living independently and working for decades. As explained in Marie Killilea's book "Karen" and the sequel "With Love From Karen," the Killilea family chose to raise Karen at home instead with as normal a life as possible, and proved that children with cerebral palsy can live normal lives and need not be mentally impaired.
Lawrence-Carter-Long pictureLawrence Carter-Long - A seasoned community organizer and advocate, he is widely recognized for his expertise in communications and media. Lawrence regularly showcases rarely seen, independent and international films with disability themes to enthusiastic non-disabled and disabled audiences alike. Lawrence was awarded the Frieda Zames Advocacy Award from NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on August 12, 2009 and was presented with the 2010 Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award on March 10 from the American Association of People with Disabilities in Washington, DC. He was appointed to the New York State Independent Living Council in March 2010. He has also orchestrated film festivals on disability through TCM.Introduction to A History of Disability on Film.
 Maria Batalova - Russian writer and script-writer, daughter of famous Russian actor Alexey Batalov. Her parents had to invite private teachers for her to get both high school education and university degree because she uses a wheelchair, and Moscow is still inaccessible to most people with a disability.
 Maysoon Zayid - An American actress, comedian and activist of Palestinian descent. Born in New Jersey in 1974, she described herself in a BBC interview as "a Palestinian Muslim virgin with cerebral palsy, from New Jersey, who is an actress, comedian and activist". Maysoon Zayid is considered one of America's first Muslim women comedians and the first person ever to perform standup in Palestine and Jordan. Zayid spends 3 months a year in the Palestinian territories, running an arts program for disabled and orphaned children in refugee camps where she helps children use art to deal with trauma and bridge the gap between disabled and non-disabled children. 80% of the funding for the camps comes from her comedy work.
Michael Kutcher pictureMichael Kutcher - Kutcher, who has cerebral palsy, is an avowed political junkie. By age three, Michael battled significant developmental delays due to his neurological issues. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy before he entered school. Despite the odds, Michael graduated from Clear Creek Amana High School, alongside his twin brother. In 2010, Michael began to follow his passion for CP advocacy supporting CP specific research and awareness for "Reaching For Stars". His signature ability to succeed is evident in his recent work with "Reaching for the Stars" raising political awareness on Capitol Hill, fund raising on a national and local level, and speaking on behalf of RFTS at various events including the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Nicolas Hamilton pictureNicolas Hamilton - Nicolas faces a greater challenge than most in trying to break into the ultra-competitive world of motor racing because he has cerebral palsy - a condition which leads to severe problems with movement, posture and co-ordination. Nicolas Hamilton is an inspiration to others. "Nic's always been very determined," his mum Linda, step-mother to Lewis said. "We've not wrapped him in cotton wool. He's gone on and done things for himself. He'll just push and push and he'll achieve what he wants to achieve." Despite his hectic schedule, Nic recently found time to join the Disabled Motoring UK team on an epic profile raising challenge, driving from the UK, through France, across the Alps, and back again in a 1932 Argson, 2 stroke, mobility trike.
Rick Hoyt pictureRick Hoyt - (born January 10, 1962) - Rick was born with cerebral palsy and though unable to use his hands or legs. At the age of 11 Rick was fitted with a computer that enabled him to communicate. With this communication device, Rick was also able to attend public schools for the first time. Rick went on to graduate from Boston University in 1993 with a degree in special education and later worked at Boston College in a computer lab helping to develop systems to aid in communication and other tasks for people with disabilities. Team Hoyt began in 1977 when Rick asked his father (Dick) if they could run in a race together to benefit a lacrosse player at his school who had become paralyzed. As of April 2012, the Hoyts had competed in 1,077 endurance events, including 70 marathons and six Ironman triathlons with Dick pushing his son in a custom-made running chair. They have run the Boston Marathon 32 times. Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days. On April 21, 2014, Team Hoyt completed the 2014 Boston Marathon, having previously announced that it would be their last.
RJ Mitte pictureRJ Mitte - Roy Frank "RJ" Mitte III - (born August 21, 1992) - An American actor. He is best known for his role as Walter White Jr. on the AMC television series, Breaking Bad. In 2006 RJ Mitte moved to Hollywood and began training with personal talent manager Addison Witt. RJ has mild cerebral palsy. Addison states that it was RJ's diligence and attitude that has helped him overcome challenges in all areas of his life.
Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer pictureRuth Sienkiewicz-Mercer (September 23, 1950 - August 8, 1998) - A quadriplegic and American disability rights activist Sienkiewicz-Mercer was born in Northampton, Massachusetts. She was a healthy baby, but was afflicted with a severe bout of encephalitis at the age of five weeks. She is best known for her autobiography I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes, co-authored with Steven B. Kaplan. At thirteen months, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy resulting from the encephalitis. Her control over her entire body, except for her face and digestive system, was severely impaired; though not completely paralyzed, she could not care for herself or communicate through speech as most people know it. Due to her inability to communicate normally, she was diagnosed as an imbecile at the age of five.
Steady Eddie pictureSteady Eddie - (born 7 December 1968) - Australian Comedian. Steady Eddy is the stage name of Christopher Widdows, an Australian comedian and actor with Cerebral palsy. Widdows used his disability as the basis for his comedy. Eddy started at the International Melbourne Comedy Festival where has was rewarded with a Young Australian Achievers Award and has since toured the UK, Canada and USA, released a big-selling CD and video and won two MO Awards and an ARIA for Best Comedy Recording.
Stephen Hopkins pictureStephen Hopkins - (March 7, 1707 - July 13, 1785) - Stephen Hopkins was born in Scituate (then a part of Providence), Rhode Island. He attended the first Continental Congress in 1774, and was a party to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He recorded his name with a trembling right hand, which he had to guide with his left. Hopkins had cerebral palsy, and was noted to have said, as he signed the Declaration, "My hand trembles, my heart does not."
Stephen Wampler pictureStephen Wampler - Born with a severe form of cerebral palsy, Steve Wampler set out to climb the biggest rock face in the world; El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, not for himself but to inspire all kids with physical disabilities and to prove that anything can be accomplished. "Over the years, I've learned to not only live with my disability, but to thrive, and I want to ensure that others have the same opportunity." Further information regarding Steve Wampler and The Wampler Foundation.
 Thomas Ritter - Attorney and former UCPA Board of Directors. Brother of Actor John Ritter. Father, Tex Ritter, helped start United Cerebral Palsy Associations, Inc. Thomas Ritter was born with cerebral palsy. In 1979, his brother, John Ritter, helped raise money for the disease.


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