Cathryn Gray — My name is Cathryn Gray, I’m 18 years old, and a senior in high school in Atlanta, Georgia. I was diagnosed with Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy and my mission in life is to help other people with CP like me, especially younger kids. I want to be a role model for others that they can relate because I didn’t have that growing up. If I can make just one person with CP feel less alone and more hopeful about their future, then all the hard times will have been worth it. That is why I feel so honored to be a part of the Cerebral Palsy Research Network.
I really enjoy school because that is where I can show the people who underestimate me that I am smart and capable. I have maintained all A’s throughout high school, including six AP classes. I love the Latin, Language Arts, and Chorus the most. I am also a part of National Honor Society, Beta Club, my local library’s Teen Advisory Board, and the advanced chorus leadership team in my high school.
Another big part of my life is sports, specifically adaptive sports. I participate on my high school’s varsity track and field team in the 100m, Shot Put, Javelin, and Discus. This year I was a 3X Georgia High School State Track & Field Champion, represented the United States of America during the 2018 World CP Games in Spain, and am a US Paralympic High School All-American in Track & Field. I share my achievements not to brag, but to explain that adaptive sports have changed my life. As I started to get older adaptive sports began to take the place of physical therapy. I know how lonely physical therapy can be. Adaptive sports have given me the confidence to be myself, CP and all, make new friends, grow in self-confidence and do well in school.
I think people with CP, and disabilities in general, are the invisible heroes of society. Being brave in the face of surgeries, countless hours of physical therapy, mobility issues, and the challenges of everyday life can be difficult. Most people don’t understand everything that people with CP go through. The medical system is challenging, and even more so as teens with CP tend to be overlooked, “discharged” from care, or assumed to be “good enough”.
I am really excited to discuss what it means to grow up and be a teenager with CP with others who are a part of CPRN so people feel less invisible and less alone. Together we can make a difference!