Inspirational Interviews

Inspirational Interviews

Hope. Cure. Love. Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day.


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Written by: Julie Forman

March 25 is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. To bring insight to this I was fortunate to speak with one of my good friends, Jonelle, on her experience growing up with Cerebral Palsy. First, a little background on this beautiful soul that I am blessed to call my friend.

I met Jonelle for the first time in elementary school. Even at a young age, Jonelle had a very special quality about her. She had the ability to make anybody feel welcomed. Not shy to strike up a conversation, she always greeted you with a big smile and a warm heart.

20 years later, Jonelle is still the same bright eyed girl I knew as a kid. She continues to spread love and positivity through her various social media accounts.It is very rare to find someone who is an genuine as Jonelle.

She has been an incredible friend to me this past year. After my daughter sustained a cervical spinal cord injury at birth, Jonelle has been a constant reminder to keep my head up and push through the hard times. When I was at my weakest moment, Jonelle was right there to lend support and a shoulder to cry on. I feel extremely blessed to have her in my life.

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1st Grade class photo. Where Jonelle and I became life long friends.

Cerebral Palsy Facts

  • 1 in 278 babies have cerebral palsy
  • It is the most common physical disability in childhood.
  • Cerebral palsy is an general term for a group of disorders.
  • Cerebral palsy is a life-long disability due to damage of the developing brain.
  • In most cases, brain injury leading to cerebral palsy occurs during pregnancy.
  • Motor disability can range from minimal to profound, depending on the individual.
  • It can range from weakness in one hand, to an almost complete lack of voluntary movement. People with significant physical disability may require 24 hour a day care.
  • Approximately 40% of people with cerebral palsy have hemiplegia.
  • Spastic hemiplegia, where one half of the body has difficulty with voluntary movement, is the most common presentation of cerebral palsy.
  • There is no known cure.

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What was childhood like growing up with CP?

My childhood had struggles in it but overall I had a good childhood. I received special education services but went to a mainstream school. I had modifications to the curriculum or adaptations as needed in the classroom.

I am so thankful I had friends who saw past my disability or helped when I needed it.

I was surrounded by individuals with disabilities growing up so it was my normal. I went to a special needs camp growing up. I got to skip the lines at an amusement park when I went to camp. Or riding the “short bus”, I got curb side pickup. Those are some of the perks as I like to call it because of my disability.

Did you have to go to a lot of therapy/ Do you still?

I mostly had therapy through the school system. Occupational/Physical therapy till I was in third grade. Speech therapy till I was in 5th grade.

I had adaptive physical education in elementary school then on consult basis after that. My adaptive PE teacher got me part of Special Olympics for two years in 4th and 5th grade. It really gave me confidence that I needed.

How have you been able to stay so positive through all the struggles?

Trust me I am not always positive. I try to be but I am human. It’s usually an afterthought, being born with CP you just learn to adapt or find another way to do.

It helps me that I grew up around others with disabilities that showed me that I could of been worse.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

One of my closest friends I met because of my disability in a special needs preschool. She had spina bifida. She really taught me if you get to know the person on the inside that what really matters.

If you could share one message for someone growing up with CP or caretakers of someone with CP, what would that message be?

Any child with a disability really has so much potential if given the right tools and the right support backing them up. Never give up on them. The sky is the limit for them if the right support system is in place.

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Inspirational Interviews

Through JoJo’s Journey


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Thanks for checking out my blog!

Chance To Inspire is a unique platform devoted to inspiring individuals and businesses to levels up. Here you will find insights and content to excel in life and entrepreneurship.  To join our community, click the link below.

CLICK HERE


Through JoJo's Journey

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Written by: Chance Forman

Meet Samantha Burns. In 2015 she was just your average 20 year old who lived an active lifestyle in Shreveport, Louisiana. A typical day started at 5am when Samantha, known by her friends as JoJo,  worked as a nanny and ended at 5pm when she got off of her job as a dental assistant.

During her down time, she would go to the gym or take her dog for a run around the neighborhood. Until one day she felt sick and went to the doctor to find out why.

Previously diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, doctors were fearful that it may have ruptured or worse turned into meningitis. A spinal tap was performed and the results were good. However, 4 days after the spinal tap, the needle site was still leaking spinal fluid. A routine blood patch turned into a devastating spinal cord injury when blood leaked into the spinal nerves causing severe inflammation and a spinal cyst. Doctors diagnosed her as having Cauda Equine Syndrome and from this point on she would be paralyzed from the waist down.

Despite losing her ability to walk, JoJo remains happy and has a positive outlook on life. She has learned through this experience to truly love herself and when she looks in the mirror all she sees is beauty and love! Speaking with Jojo inspired me to find the beauty in my own life. She gives me hope that Lillian can grow up and have such a positive outlook on life. Here is her story.

What keeps you smiling and positive, instead of the alternative?

“If you’re negative about a situation it only makes it harder. I mean, I’m not saying I don’t have meltdowns because trust me! I do. But in those moments I just have to realize it’s all going to be okay.

I can’t tell you what keeps me smiling. I’ve ALWAYS had a smile on my face. Even in pain, I’ll smile. Sometimes the doctors will think I’m lying because I’m smiling even though I’m crying. Haha. I care so much for others and I know that if someone sees ME smiling, even in a wheel chair, then maybe they will smile back and have a better day. My goal is to help others. That’s ALL I want. I want my story to be heard!”

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What is the one obstacle you are trying to overcome right now to get you that much closer to walking?

Honestly, my endurance and the pain are the hardest things for me to over come. Since I’m not that strong anymore, I get tired very very fast which makes me have to stop. But the pain in my back is excruciating. That’s been nonstop since the day of the blood patch. It’s miserable. No one can even touch my back without making me flinch.Those are truly the two most important things I have to overcome.

What types of therapies do you do during your rehabilatiation therapy?

I’ve used bioness technology therapy for about a year I’d say. Bioness is where they take electrodes that shock my muscles which makes them move. I haven’t used them for the last two weeks because my leg function has gotten really really good. I’ve started being able to pick up my feet, which is a big deal! That’s the main thing we were using bioness  for, because my foot drop is severe. I had NO idea it would help so much. It fires your muscles. It’s crazy to watch.

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Is there anything you are fundraising for or you would like to bring attention to?

“Right now I don’t have anything I need, my insurance is really really good so it has helped ALOT when getting everything I’ve needed.

I’m trying so hard to inspire others. That’s all I want! Beside’s being able to walk again (haha) but it’ll happen!

These injuries need to be heard about! So many people misunderstand them. Which I totally get. I would love to help educate others about SCI.”

Who is your inspiration?

My nana (my mom’s mom) lost her home in the flood that happened last year. I wanted to be there for her, so my mom carried me on her back up and down and all around the house so that I could try to help and support. Haha I just love this picture. It shows how truly amazing she is. AND SHE HAS A TERRIBLE BACK! She’s who I get my strength from.

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To learn more and support  JoJo on her journey, follow her at:

Facebook.com/throughjojosjourney

or on Instagram @samanthajoannburns