KEEPING IT REAL: Mark’s Story

Fri 14 Apr 2023

Keeping It Real: Mark’s Story*
By Mark Wakefield

Describe what it was like to grow up with cerebral palsy.
Growing up with cerebral palsy was challenging at times, especially when I was in school. I felt isolated sometimes when other kids would tease me. I tried my best to look past this, and for the most part kids treated me normally as they got to know me more. I have a lot of memories of receiving treatments as a kid; I spent a lot of time in Dupont Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware. Over many years, I received multiple surgeries on my leg, and was in physical therapy often. As I have grown up, I feel more confident than I did as a kid. I try to take each challenge as it comes and try and better myself every day. 

What's your relationship with your cerebral palsy?
My relationship with cerebral palsy changes depending on the day. My experiences and overall relationship with cerebral palsy has gone through many ups and downs throughout different periods of my life. Although cerebral palsy has greatly affected who I am as a person, I look at myself like everyone else.

What achievement are you most proud of and why?
My greatest achievement has been growing up to have a family and kids that I am very proud of. Being able to watch my children do things that I wasn’t able to do as they grow up and start to become young adults has been incredibly rewarding.

What's the most adventurous thing you've done and what's one adventure you hope to take?
I have been able to travel to a bunch of different cities throughout Europe with my family. I hope to travel to even more countries in the future, and hopefully visit a few new continents as well.

What do you hope to achieve in the next few years?
I would like to continue to better myself each day by staying as healthy and active as possible. This has been a big priority of mine especially as I have grown older. 

What is most rewarding about being a parent? On the flip side, what's the most challenging part of parenting?
The most rewarding aspect of parenting is raising healthy and happy children. I am grateful to be able to watch them play sports and get involved in other extra curriculars. A challenge I struggle with parenting is the thought that they might have to take care of me one day.  

What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to not take what others say to you personally. Focus on yourself and try your best not to worry about others’ opinions of you. 

What do you wish other people knew about what it's like to have cerebral palsy?
I hope other people know that I am just like any other person. Cerebral palsy has impacted my life, but that does not mean that I have let it stop me from enjoying my life and achieving what I want. A famous quote I live by from Michael Irvin, “You tell everyone or anyone that has ever doubted, thought they did not measure up or wanted to quit, you tell them to look up, get up and don't ever give up”. 

What advice would you give others with cerebral palsy?
I would tell others to try and focus on the things that you can control. Although cerebral palsy is very different for everyone, all anyone can do is appreciate what we do have and focus on the positive things. 


*Mark'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 or medical 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.

Thu 11 Apr 2024

In the first part of our newest Science Spotlight blog, learn how scientists can harness electricity to help with movement disorders that sometimes accompany cerebral palsy.

Thu 04 Apr 2024

Check out the final part of Rindi and Soren’s story.