Fri 20 May 2022

KEEPING IT REAL: Chad's Story*

By Chad Williams

What achievement are you most proud of and why?

I recently completed my first ever 5K race, finishing in 26:53 and placing 70th out of 183 runners. I entered this race in part because I am training for a Spartan Race in June, which will also be a first. These are separate events, but they go hand in hand with my fitness training.

In 2021, I was dealing with severe spasticity related to my cerebral palsy. I spent much of 2021 either in pain or wondering how long I would be able to go before the pain would come back.  Not only did I miss out on some things, but I felt like I lost a little bit of myself.  Rather than continue, I made a choice to find a way to alleviate the pain and set some tough goals for myself so that I could show myself what I am capable of. 

So, that led me to signing up for a Spartan Race and training several times a week. As my training evolved, I found a love for running — and I signed up for a 5K run, and then an official 5K race.

There are many reasons that I am proud of this, the first being what it shows my children.  My children saw me on my bad days, often asking me if I would be okay, or realizing that I was in a bit of pain and not having a great day. 

Now, they are seeing the other side of things. They are seeing me set goals, and push through, they are seeing me overcome adversity and I think that is very important. I am also proud of myself. I was at a point where it would have been easy to feel sorry for myself and want less for myself and nobody would have blamed me. However, I wanted more for myself and now I feel better than I ever have. 

What's the most adventurous thing you've done and what's one adventure you hope to take?

The most adventurous thing I’ve done would be skydiving  — twice. My first jump was in central New York and my second jump was in Las Vegas.

What do you hope to achieve in the next few years?

As I sit here today, I am thinking how incredible it would be to run a half-marathon. Looking back at middle school, I ran one year of cross-country and although I gave it my all, I was always the last runner to come out of the woods.

That season, “Where’s Chad?” became a running joke because as the run was ending, there I would be, coming out of the woods — last, but not least. Now, here I am talking about successfully finishing a 5K and mulling over a possible half-marathon. Never give up on yourself!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Your definition of success and fulfillment will change as you grow. I always thought that I had to achieve certain things to be happy, but I found myself going in a completely different direction in life, and I feel better than I ever imagined would be possible.

What do you wish other people knew about what it's like to have cerebral palsy?

People with cerebral palsy want to be treated like everyone else.  They want to be seen as an individual without being defined by their diagnosis.

What advice would you give others with cerebral palsy?

Don’t let cerebral palsy define who you are. You can do anything that you put your mind to. Set some tough goals for yourself and then go achieve those goals!

*Chad's story is part of KEEPING IT REAL — a series of personal stories that will take you deeper into the lives of people with CP. Each person makes different choices based on what works for them, and we’ll showcase that — highlighting what life is like for them on a daily basis, what they care about, and the ways CP impacts them. 

The KEEPING IT REAL blog is intended solely to raise awareness about the varied human experience with cerebral palsy and shouldn't be read or construed to contain any medical advice, medical endorsement, or other endorsement by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation. Only you and your doctor know what's best for you. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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