Our Ambassadors

Thu 09 May 2024

Long banner with a rounded square photo of RJ on the left side. Text reads "Keeping it Real: RJ's Story, Part 2". A purple line underneath and the green cparf logo in the bottom right corner.
By RJ Nealon I often think back to that quick submission loss and tell myself that it was probably the best thing that happened to me and my journey. It forced me to take a deep hard look at myself and converse with my inner self. What do I want? What impact do I want […]

Fri 03 May 2024

Discover how RJ used Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to find and harness his personal strengths, and how it became an important part of his relationship with his cerebral palsy.

CPARF’s ambassadors each have their own ambitions, passions, and experiences with CP. Discover more about them.

Marissa Lelogeais

Honorary Friends & Family Ambassador

Marissa Lelogeais isn’t defined by her cerebral palsy. If you ask her, she’ll say her life is music and music is her life.

While people do notice her CP — looking at her weirdly or assuming she has a leg injury, or staring the red-and-white tipped cane she uses due to low vision — she doesn’t let that faze or stop her. She does get frustrated, though, when she’s trying to do something and her brain doesn’t catch up to her body quickly enough.

She’s thrilled to let music speak for her, counting reggae and Broadway shows as her favorite genres. As a musician, she says, “singing onstage and playing music with my friends gives me so much joy that I feel like I could burst. When I’m onstage, I feel empowered. While I may have CP, I can still play music and sing songs I wrote, which I hope will make the people at the show smile — and dance.”

Bill Richards, Jr.

Honorary Friends & Family Ambassador

Bill Richards, Jr., has cerebral palsy. He’s nonverbal and uses a speech program to help him communicate. He gives disability awareness speeches to fourth graders two or three times a month and speaks to future doctors and nurses about disability-related issues to help educate them before they start their careers.

Bill went to a standard high school in the San Francisco Bay area, and to junior college in Sacramento, California. He lives alone in his own home with 24-hour personal care outside Sacramento, California. Bill enjoys swimming, bowling, and visiting with his friends, visiting his family in Tahoe, California, and New York, and everywhere else they live.

He’d be interested in the real-time thought-to-speech system if it ever comes on to the market. Bill’s personality comes through so much better with his computer program than it ever has when he was using only hid word-board, he’s hopeful that with some hard work and training someday, he might be able to use a real-time thought-to-speech system.

Chelsea Bear

CPARF Ambassador

Chelsea loves traveling, blogging, advocating, going to the beach, and going to concerts.

Some her other favorite pastimes include riding her tricycle, going on walks, drinking red wine, spending time with family and friends, and much more! She is a South Florida-based disability and inclusivity influencer and advocate.

Chelsea utilizes her social media platforms and website to share her firsthand story of living with cerebral palsy. Her content is comprised of educational, fun, and lighthearted posts that inspire acceptance and awareness for those with disabilities, differences, and beyond. Chelsea gives her followers an inside look at how she navigates daily activities, while also showcasing how she lives a normal life despite her disability.

She’s certainly no stranger to adventure and strives to live her life to the fullest. She’s passionate about being a positive light in the world. Chelsea earned her bachelor’s degree in communication from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2015 and currently leads a career in public relations.

Steve Ferreira

CPARF Ambassador

Steve Ferreira was born with cerebral palsy in Taipei, Taiwan in 1988.  Steve graduated from Bellevue College in 2013 with an Associates Degree with a concentration in Communications.  He is currently attending Central Washington University to obtain his Certificate in Accessible Studies.  This will help him broaden his advocacy for people with disabilities.

When he was 15 years old, he decided he wanted to try to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.  He started speaking to local high schools about what it is like to live with a disability.  To date, he has spoken over 1,000 times at more than 20 different regional high schools, local colleges, corporations, conferences and Kiwanis and Rotary events.  In addition, he has spoken to high schools and a college in Taipei, Taiwan. As a motivational speaker, Steve aims to raise disability awareness within each and every community he addresses.  In November of 2011, he started a non-profit called Beyond Disabilities to further his goal of disability awareness and anti-bullying.  In addition, to his motivational speaking, Steve has been involved in athletics and has competed in International Competitions both in the United States and Europe, earning the bronze medal in shot put in 2008 and the gold medal in discus in 2010.

Jenny Saunders

CPARF Ambassador

Jenny loves dogs, staying in, and has a great sense of humor. She is also Conner’s mom and Conner has cerebral palsy. She shares some of her experience with us:

Becoming a caretaker has unexpectedly taught me so much more about life and myself than I could have gained from any job. Now, I can tell you that I am resilient, I have learned to fight for things I believe in and advocate on behalf of Conner or myself, openly share our journey when it feels right, make connections with others, educate…the list goes on. While sometimes I find it easiest to stay in my comfort zone, I quickly remind myself of the difficult tasks I have done over the last five years and I see how much I’ve changed. I am capable even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment.

Todd Williams

CPARF Ambassador
2019 STEPtember Fitness Ambassador

Todd is a physical therapist — a career path he chose because of his own struggle with movement. He’s passionate about helping others through PT so that they can fully participate in their communities.

Todd loves backpacking, long-distance running, and cooking — especially for other people. He’s currently training for the 2019 New York City Marathon and you can learn more about his work and personal journey at PTwithCP.com. Todd hopes to be the person he wishes he had when he was growing up.

He became a CPARF Ambassador in 2021 and began as a STEPtember Fitness Ambassador in 2019.

Justin Gallegos

2019 STEPtember Ambassador

Justin’s a journalism major at the University of Oregon and he’s made headlines by becoming Nike’s first pro athlete with cerebral palsy and being featured in Runners World.

Running is Justin’s passion. He’s part of his university’s track team and has run a half-marathon, where he bested 60% of the competition while wearing shoes he helped create with the Nike Sports Lab. Justin hopes to motivate others of all abilities to set and achieve ambitious personal goals.