Not "Even With" but "Thanks to" My Disability

By Janira Obregon

Soon after I was born, my mom knew that there was something wrong because, unlike most babies, I was not moving my arms nor legs. After speaking to different doctors, I was finally diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Spastic Quadriplegia, a disability that affects my four limbs, due to a brain injury at birth. 


There have been times in my life where things got complicated, but despite that, I kept pushing forward to be the best I could be. There are people who think that because I have a disability that I need special accommodations for everything or I won’t rise to the occasion, and that’s not true. There are also people who support and believe in me and the things that I can do. 


I am proud of the person that I am, because even with the limitations that I have, I’ve accomplished and done so many things. I graduated high school, ranking #4 out of 100 graduating seniors, and I was the only one with a disability. I have an Associate’s in Paralegal Studies from LaGuardia Community College. While there, I became part of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and the Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society for Students with Disabilities. I graduated from there with a 3.7 GPA, which I am proud of. In 2015, I participated in the NY Miss Amazing Pageant. Miss Amazing is a pageant that celebrates the abilities of girls and women with disabilities and thanks to them, I have grown so much as a person. In that year, I won the title of Teen Queen, and got the chance to represent NY at the national pageant in LA, in which I won 1st Runner-Up. I also participated in 2017, and I won the title of Jr. Miss Queen. 


This past May, I graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where I majored in English with a minor in Law. I want to go to law school in the future. For now I would like to go to Colombia Law School and practice Immigration Law or Family Law.


This past September, I modeled for the very first time in New York Fashion Week for Nike, at the Fashion Revolution Event for Runway of Dreams. Runway of Dreams is an organization that advocates and helps promote people with disabilities in the fashion industry. I'm still remembering this incredible day. Growing up, I never saw other kids like myself in such events like this, or movies, magazines, etc. I'm glad I got to be a part of that event, to show that people with disabilities can do anything we set our minds to.


Never in my wildest dreams, would I have thought I'd be this far in life, doing the things I'm doing, and accomplishing so many things. To me, it's very important to put myself out there and do things, to share my story. Trying to end the stigma that those who have disabilities, shouldn't be able to do great things.

I enjoy dining out, catching a movie, shopping and spending time with family and friends. Being in a wheelchair gives me a unique perspective. I know I am different but I also am able to appreciate even the smallest things. I can see the blades of grass, I can see each petal on a newly blossomed flower, and I can feel the warm rays of sun on my back. I make it a goal to recognize the smallest blessings in life and that, I believe, is one of my greatest abilities. I believe that we all have disabilities, or things that we can’t do. With perseverance and a grateful heart, we can overcome any challenges and find the good in everything. In a sense, many of our disabilities become one of our abilities whether we choose to realize it or not. My mom helped me to see that even with my disability - no not “even with”, but "thanks to it" - I can change the world with my hope, joy, kindness, and love. So if I had to tell you what I am most grateful for, it is my disability; With it I bring hope to people just by living a normal life. My goal in life will be to help people realize their greatest potential and the many abilities that they have, in spite of any disabilities or trials that may come their way."

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