Navigating the social and physical changes of being a teenager in a wheelchair can be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. Take Cameron, for instance. With the help of his parents, this At Home Medical customer keeps up a full roster of sports and social activities that don’t leave him any time to feel sorry for himself. When we heard about how well-rounded of an athlete he was, we asked him and his mom, Christa, to share their story with us.
Q. Tell me about your family.
A. Christa: In addition to Cameron, I have a 9-year-old son and my husband, Bradley. We live north of Atlanta.
Q. How did you become an At Home Medical Customer?
A. Christa: There were syringes that we had to buy regularly that Medicaid stopped covering. We were referred to At Home Medical and found out their warehouse wasn’t that far from where we live. We’re actually able to pick up our supplies right from the office.
We also found out the catheters were cheaper than what we were paying with Medicaid, so now we get those from At Home Medical too.
Q. What’s your story?
A. Christa: Cameron had a spinal cord injury at the age of 2. It’s an unknown reason. We went to many doctors and one believed that he had a blood clot that burst and affected his spinal column. He’s paralyzed from around the belly button down.
His strength is incredible because he’s been in the wheelchair from such a young age. If he sees someone do something, he does it. When he was younger he joined a sack race by putting his feet in the sack and pushing with the wheels. He shows out at the park because he knows the money bars are a cinch!
I don’t even worry about him doing things – he just does them. I know he’s capable.
He doesn’t think of himself as being disabled and will do anything his friends are doing. At the skate park, everyone’s on skate boards, he does tricks in his chair.
He also water skis and competes in the summers on the Shepherd Center ski team.
His goal is to play wheelchair basketball in college and become a member of the USA water skiing team.
Q. How did you get him involved in sports?
A. Christa: He was always so active, we started trying to find things for him to do early on. At the age of 3 and 4, a lot of places didn’t have equipment small enough. Finally, when he was about 6, Blaze Sports had wheelchairs that were small enough for him, so that’s how we got started with wheelchair basketball. It fit him perfectly because of his speed and wheelchair skills.
He is a 3-time national champion for the wheelchair basketball prep team. Now he’s on the varsity team and they’re entering nationals as the 2nd ranked team in the nation – the highest ranking ever for Blaze Sports varsity.
At 6 years old, we went on a ski trip with the Shepherd Center and he was so good at turns and everything, we found a center ran by the first female disabled water skier (Ann O’Brine-Satterfield w/ UCanSki 2). And it came naturally to him.
We’re also big on tennis in our family, so he goes to tennis camps through the county in the summers. The only reason he doesn’t compete is because we haven’t found a program yet.
Q. Do you guys get involved in any non-sports activities?
A. Christa: He’s also a mentor at Children’s Healthcare Atlanta. The chaplain on the rehab floor calls us when someone faces a similar injury. We mentor the parents, and Cameron plays with the kids. They usually have a chair by then and he’ll race down the hall with them.
My husband talks to them about sports and I talk to them about opportunities that are out there. I talk about discipline, telling parents that just because a child has a disability, don’t baby them. Go home and treat them like you normally would. Your child’s attitude will come off your attitude. Their behavior will come from how you treat them.
Q. Do you guys travel — for sports or recreation?
A. Christa: We just got back from a cruise to the Cayman Islands. We travel once a month for wheelchair basketball, usually throughout the Southeast. We’ll be going to Louisville, KY in April for the national tournament.
Q. What athletes do you look up to?
A. Cameron: Steph Curry, because of his faith in God. I like how he’s got his Bible verses on his basketball shoes.
Q. How helpful is it to have parents so committed to finding ways for you to stay active?
A. Cameron: I’m not sitting around doing nothing all day. Some parent just don’t know what to do and kinda start feeling sorry for their child. My parents don’t feel sorry for me. Same with all my friends. We go to parks and stuff and we do stuff that maybe other people wouldn’t do, but I get out there and do it too.
Q. Sports he hasn’t tried but wants to?
A. Cameron: I’d like to play tennis more. And I’d like to find a group with wheelchair football that’s really active.
Q. What do you say to someone who’s in a wheelchair and looking for ways to be more active?
A. Cameron: If you fail, don’t give up. Just try again. Look up Blaze Sports if you’re located in Georgia. They’ve got so many groups. Don’t let your disability get in the way of you doing stuff and hanging out with your friends. And don’t be afraid to ask people to help you do anything.
Q. I know you have a 9-year-old brother. What advice would you give to siblings of wheelchair users?
A. Cameron: Some of my friends have a higher disability than me, and their siblings may not want to hang around them because they don’t want to look bad. But that’s your family and friends, you should get along with them. You don’t want to treat them badly because they have feelings too. They just want to be treated like normal.
Q. Where do you think you’ll be in in 10 years?
A. Cameron: I’ll be traveling around the world doing new stuff, like maybe going rick climbing, or going to the tropics. Just go exploring.
Thank you, Christa and Cameron, for sharing your story with us! Between all of those sports, mentoring other families and his big plans for the future, Cameron’s living life to the fullest. Good luck at the national tournament this year!
Would you like to share your story with us, or see more inspiring stories like these? Drop us a comment below or head over to Facebook and follow iPush, a foundation that At Home Medical proudly sponsors.