My name is Jacob Arens.
I am writing today to express my deepest gratitude, and to
provide just one more example of the difference that youmake.
I was fortunate to be a member of the first cohort to attendCLC at its first location (independent of Ken-O-Sha) from four to six yearsold. While my case would not be considered severe, my CP was very noticeable,and without the help of the conductors at CLC it would have been much morechallenging.
I have few memories of my time at CLC but I know that thesupport I received was invaluable. As a kid with Cerebral Palsy, thingswere difficult at times. I was the slowest one on theplayground during tag and soccer. The nickname tippy toes stuck around alittle longer than I would have liked.
In spite of these little inconveniences, I essentially leftCP behind. As I entered Middle School the constant practice and stretching paidoff, and I no longer walked any differently from other kids. In High School Iplayed football, was on the Varsity Wrestling team, and played competitiveUltimate Frisbee after concussions made contact sports a little too risky.
After graduating with honors from Michigan State Universityin 2019 I set out to see the world. I began my journey in Asia, where Ioccupied myself by enrolling in a Thai Boxing fight camp, because why not?
When I pulled a hip flexor after two weeks of training I wasdevastated. I felt like such a failure. All this time I had felt so tough andstrong, and here I was, humbled and hurt in a tiny, dirty hut halfway acrossthe world from anybody that cared. Maybe I should give up my crazy traveldreams and go home.
The sudden thought occurred to me...I was never supposed tobe able to do this stuff. I have Cerebral Palsy. How crazy was it that I hadbeen able to train with these deadly maniacs for two whole weeks?! How luckywas I to have lived a life so unhindered by my circumstance that I forgot I wasborn with a disability?
I continued to travel, and whenever I'd talk about the fightcamp experience my CP would inevitably be mentioned (I think that it helped mybruised ego a bit). People were shocked that they hadn't noticed, and I'd brushit off saying, "I had really good therapy."
My gratitude grew steadily with each conversation. Iunderstood what a gift I had been given. Wanting to make the most of it, Iwondered what else I could do, that would be totally nuts as a person with CP.
I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia toMaine. Nearly 2,200 miles. It's an insane task for any individual, andpractically impossible for me.
In 2022, on my second attempt, I hiked 2,194.3 miles fromSpringer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, Maine.
It was a life-changing moment. A moment I'll forever begrateful for. A moment I have CLC to thank for. I didn't do it by myself, anyof it. None of it was a certainty, all of it was a gift.
The work you do gives children a chance at a life theyaren't "supposed" to have. What you do gives them a chance to be somuch more than a diagnosis, to do so much more.
Thank you for doing for them what CLC has done forme. I am forever grateful.