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On March 11, actor Micah Fowler will be the recipient of the Trailblazer Award at the United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles’ (UCPLA) fourth annual Art of Care gala, at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Broadway World reports that the Trailblazer Award is reserved for those who work to raise awareness regarding the disabilities they live with. Micah Fowler, 19, portrays JJ DiMeo in the ABC television show, Speechless. JJ, just as Mica, has cerebral palsy, and the show successfully found a way to show that people with the disability are no different than any other child, despite their limitations.
Although Micah’s form of disability isn’t as severe as JJ’s, critics have said that part of the reason for the show’s success is Micah’s natural abilities to portray JJ in a positive light, regardless of the circumstances.
While Micah can verbally communicate, JJ is non-verbal, using a laser attached to his head and a communication board to connect with others.
Micah can walk with minor limitations, but JJ immobile and needs a wheelchair to get around.
Yet, JJ ends up teaching non-disabled people how to treat others, practical knowledge, and lessons on kindness and morality.
On the other hand, JJ is your typical high school boy who experiences crushes, dating, his first kiss, thoughts of cheating on a school test, and picking on his younger siblings.
When the writers of the show created a disabled teen with flaws as any other high-schooler would have, it hit home with viewers with disabilities who, like JJ, have many of the same issues that non-disabled people face.
When he’s not working on the show, Micah continues to advocate for cerebral palsy awareness and for people with disabilities in general.
“I am so honored to have the opportunity to represent the disabled community and bring awareness and acceptance to all the incredible individuals who live with disabilities,” Micah said, according to Broadway World. “It means so much to receive this Trailblazer Award and it inspires me to continue advocating and being a voice for our community.”
President and Chief Executive Officer of UCPLA, Ronald S. Cohen, said that it’s a privilege to honor someone such as Micah with the Trailblazer Award. Micah, an inspiration to both disabled and non-disabled people, works tirelessly to bring awareness to cerebral palsy. The teen maintains a grueling schedule, but still uses his spare time to help people understand that many people with disabilities, to this day, still fight for their civil rights.
“It is always a privilege when we are able to recognize inspiring individuals, like Micah Fowler, who challenge the public to recognize and embrace the valuable contributions made by people with developmental disabilities. Through his popularity and his advocacy, Micah is able to magnify the struggle of valuable community members, like the 1,000 individuals and families UCPLA serves each day, who are still fighting for their civil rights.”
Micah, originally from New Jersey, moved to LA when he landed the role of JJ. Despite having to give up his sled hockey season and missing the majority of his senior year of high school, he doesn’t complain, and considers himself fortunate. Micah studied with a tutor for most of his final high school year, and is expected to return to New Jersey in the spring to graduate with his class.
Micah told BuzzFeed News that in the future, he’d love to be in a Star Wars or a Marvel film. He also hopes to see more people with disabilities with roles on television shows.
I just really hope in the future that more disabled people will be on TV. I also want to be in a Star Wars movie or a Marvel movie.”
Speechless premiered its second season episode last Sept. on ABC.