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Cerebral palsy is one of the most common motor disability disorders in the world. It ranges in severity from severe motor dysfunction to light spastic movements. Regardless of the severity of the disorder, many children with cerebral palsy go on to have successful lives. These following celebrities with cerebral palsy aren’t willing to let their disorder slow them down.
- Josh Blue is a stand-up comedian well-known for being voted the Last Comic Standing on NBC’s fourth season of its reality show, Last Comic Standing. Blue uses self-deprecating humor about his disorder and focuses the majority of his jokes on the daily challenges of living with cerebral palsy.
Blue was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy at birth, and the disorder affects the movement in one of his arms. Regardless, Blue stated that although he has cerebral palsy, he felt blessed while growing up.
“Even growing up I knew that more or less my condition is a really small issue in terms of the rest of the planet. I’ve enjoyed food on my table and shelter for my entire life, and a lot of people don’t have those things. My Cerebral Palsy is a minuscule issue for most of the planet.”
Yet, Blue still remembers an incident during childhood when he was cut from a soccer team due to his disorder. It would be one of the reasons that he would go on to become a comedian. He began to focus on writing and wry sense of humor, which not only helped him cope, but prepared him for his future in the entertainment business.
- RJ Mitte is an actor best known for his role as Walter White Jr. on the AMC television show Breaking Bad. Mitte’s talent and interest in entertainment prompted him to move to Hollywood and begin training with a personal talent manager. Mitte developed brain damage at birth after his mother delivered him via C-section. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was three.
In addition to Breaking Bad, Mitte appeared in the Disney show Hannah Montana and the horror film, House of Last Things. He’s the winner of the 2014 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series award, from the Screen Actors Guild Awards. He also won the 2014 Rising Star award, for the Gasparilla International Film Festival.
Mitte has spent his spare time as an activist for cerebral palsy. Not only is he a a celebrity ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy (UCP, but he also appeared in the March, 2015 issue of Neurology Now.
- Geri Jewell is an actress and comedian with an impressive number of roles behind her belt. From 1980 to 1984, she starred as Geri Tyler on the popular show, The Fact of Life. Her role in the show marked the first time a person with a disability obtained a regular, recurring role on a prime time television series, and she was the first person with cerebral palsy to be featured on a television show.
Jewell’s first gig was a comedian act in 1978 at The Comedy Store. She also appeared in the HBO series Deadwood, from 2004-2006, as Jewel, and in 2004, had a recurring role as Rose on The Young and the Restless. However, it was her work on The Facts of Life that made the biggest impact of career. Jewell recalled,
“I didn’t know the significance my appearance on television has until later. It would take me a long time to understand it. But after I first appeared on [on television], I received thousands of fan letters. I received letters that said, ‘You changed my life.'” It took a while for me to understand that.”
Jewell was born prematurely and with a brain injury that stemmed from a car accident her mother was in while still pregnant with her. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy later on, and remembered that although she was teased for being different, she began making kids laugh at an early age, which helped them feel comfortable around her and understand her disorder.
“I think as a kid I compensated for being different and not being understood. I made people laugh, and it made other people more comfortable. It was a skill I honed from a very early age.”