18-year-old Aaron VanKampen was born with Cerebral Palsy and grew up thinking he would never be able to walk.
The disorder has not affected his brainpower, but it has made it extremely difficult to bend and move his legs. Even facing these challenges, he has proven that he can do anything he sets his mind to.
The game-changing procedure:
In 2007, Aaron became the first child in Grad Rapids, Michigan to receive a selective dorsal rhizotomy. This procedure would involve severing the misfiring nerves in the spinal cord in order to reduce spastic muscle movement. Recovering from this procedure is very difficult.
After the procedure, Aaron went through an entire year of physical therapy. All his hard work was worth it in the end. Aaron was able to take his very first steps! His parents claim that it was Aaron’s positive attitude that got him through.
“He never asked questions, ‘Why amd I different.” Aaron’s father said.
“He seems so much happier now about everything,” his mother added. “He just looks different now. He’s glowing.”
Before the operation, Aaron couldn’t keep up with his twin sister. By 2013, he was playing with her.
The procedure opened up all sorts of possibilities for Aaron. He even signed up for Little League Baseball! Eventually, he would be able to march in his High School Band.
Aaron was a part of the marching band all four years of his high school experience but spent the first three of those years playing his trumpet from the front sideline. Marching the drill was too much for him…until his senior year.
Now, the high school senior spends his final season marching the drill with the rest of the band.
Learning the drill and formations for a marching band show involves long hours on the practice field and a lot of repetition. It takes even longer to master the fundamentals of marching technique. On the first day of band camp, Aaron marched for 3 hours straight before his band director forced him to take a break.
Even with the challenge of having cerebral palsy, Aaron was able to learn the drill with the rest of his band and perform in various marching competitions and football games. He says completing a show feels like running 10 miles for him. When asked how he does it, the teenager simply replied:
“Because I’m stubborn. And because we have to learn the sets, and I wanted to learn them.”
Aaron is an inspiration to so many people, especially his mother.
“It’s pretty special because everyone told us he wouldn’t be able to do it. So it’s pretty neat to see him do it.”
Aaron’s hard work and dedication shows us how much people can overcome if they remain dedicated to it. He is such a strong kid. Keep up the great work, Aaron!
You can watch Aaron perform in the video below.
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