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Keith's Story on Cerebral Palsy - Page 3

Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

"Life is not about fitting in; it's about standing out." I don't know who originally said that, but it became my mantra when I joined the marching band. That's right: Keith, the guy writing about walking funny, joined the marching band as a freshman in high school.

Why? I really enjoy playing instruments, and in my high school, if you wanted to be in any band, you had to join marching band. It was a requirement: If you didn't join marching band, you couldn't play at all.

That's how I found myself standing in the middle of a football field, trying out for the only high school sport where judges strictly critique the way you walk — no pressure there!

Being a member of a nationally recognized marching band is one of my more significant high school accomplishments. Although I can't say for sure how much harder it was for me than the rest of the band to keep step and pace while maintaining musical integrity, I can assure you that wrestling doesn't even come close to being as physically demanding.

Imagine standing on the 50-yard line of a football field as proud and as tall as physically possible while holding a 5-pound instrument up to your face. The conductor is counting 1-2-3-4-1-2; you're marching in time. Now put yourself in my position: Imagine doing this with a large rubber band wrapped around your knees — but still maintain your form, remember all your notes, project your sound high...left foot...right foot...backward, forward, sideways...LOUDER. You can't make any mistakes, because the judges see everything. I bet you can see why I stuck with it for 9 out of 12 months for all 4 years of high school!

The message here is, don't get discouraged by your physical limitations. There is no physical way that my marching technique was anywhere close to being technically sound, but I tried my hardest, and I never gave up. Over the 4 years, my marching band and I won numerous regional and state level championships; in this case it wasn't so bad to "stand out."

Whether I'm winning or losing, young or old, I will always have CP. That will make me different from everyone else, but it is up to me to decide how differently I present myself. For me, CP is not an excuse for bitterness or negative actions, but more of a reason to better myself or an excuse to try harder and be more successful.

Life can be funny, so why not beat it to the punchline?

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