Meet seven area individuals whose special needs, from cerebral palsy to Down syndrome, have not defined them. Their families deserve plenty of credit for their achievements, for sure, yet it's their heart, determination, and personality that deserve to be emulated.
Born blind, deaf, and with a developmental disability, Kenny Berg of Queens has defied doctor's expectations from the start. His fighting spirit, combined with his mother's passionate advocacy, has set the stage for a life full of independence and love.
Joshua Eber, an accomplished Rockland-based actor who happens to have Down syndrome, is a role model and a downright happy guy. Joshua has defied many medical expectations throughout his life in order to pursue his passion for performing.
This Long Islander, who has autism, courageously crossed the finish line of his 26-mile dream. Matthew started running when he found it calmed his anxiety, and with the help of a dedicated coach, he completed the New York City Marathon.
Not only has this "happy, stubborn man," as his dad describes him, lived beyond the age doctors predicted when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but a residential farm-based facility in upstate New York gives him real purpose.
Defying early expectations, this preschooler with cerebral palsy has begun to use her voice and has strengthened core muscles, improving her chances of walking. Her family loves her no matter what.
Busy, busy: With a four-day-a-week job, a regular volunteering gig, volleyball, bingo, theater, and more, this developmentally delayed young lady is never bored, and always determined.
"How wrong they were," Randy's mom says of the early specialists who grossly overestimated how limiting this brave boy's cerebral palsy would be. Randy has since graduated high school and is enrolled in college in Manhattan.