Another point of view

Jim Haynal

I am Jim. I travel around campus in my little red wheelchair. I have Cerebral palsy, caused by high forceps at birth. I was unable to breathefor seven minutes. Lack of oxygen at birth for five minutes will cause brain damage or death. It damaged the right side of the brain, which controls my body movements. Luckily it did not damage the part of my brain that controls my cognitive thinking.

I am currently studyingat Villanova University. I give speeches at communication conferences and colleges all over the country. I have appeared on TV news programs in the United States and the Bahamas. I am also writing a book on my great life.

At the present time, I write several communication-device publications. Also, I was featured in newspapers in Germany.

In addition, I have a very busy social life. When I was growing up, I asked my mom why people were looking at me. Her answer was that I am a good looking guy with beautiful eyes.

My mom and dad taught me that I could do anything that I set my mind to do. And I am just as smart as everyone else; God created us one by one, and I do not act like a manufactured thing. I never gave up just because of my disability; giving up is not my style. I have a normal life with many friends who like to be with me. After a short time, my friends were able to see past the fact that I use a communication device.

I am very outgoing with people; I am not afraid to go over to someone and start a conversation, and I had met some of my friends this way. But one friend especially.

My family has a summer home in Ocean City, NJ. I spend summers at the shore. In the summer of 2002, I needed someone to take care of me. I placed a help-wanted ad in the newspaper, which asked for a college student to help take care of a smart, disabled college student in the mornings.

A girl came over for me to interview, but she said that she could not handle the responsibility. She went home and told her sister, Lisa, about me. Lisa called my mom the next morning and said she would like to take care of me.

The same morning, I saw a caring and nice young lady standing outside of my bedroom door. She said her name was Lisa. Our special friendship started that day.

She takes care of me with love in her eyes, and she is with me whenever I need her. Lisa takes me out to places in my van. I can talk to her about how it feels to not communicate quickly. Lisa talks to me about everything and likes to get my advice and opinions.

We have an open friendship and know each other very well. She is thinking of becoming a speech-language therapist because of my frustration of not being able to talk. I hug her to show my happiness from being around her. We have many great times and memories together.

During the school year, we e-mail each other often since we cannot be together, due to her busy schedule at La Salle University.

Most of the disabled population is not as lucky as I am to have friends such as Lisa. That is because people are timid to go up to a person in a wheelchair due to the fact that they think the disabled person does not understand.