Central Texas teen with cerebral palsy defies odds, inspires others as he plays three sports in school
GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas high school sophomore with Cerebral palsy is defying the odds, playing three sports in high school and inspiring others with disabilities and challenges by spreading a message of never giving up.
Roman Perez, 15, was diagnosed just shy of his sixth birthday with a mild form of spastic Cerebral palsy, which is the most common form of the disorder that results in stiff muscles. He attends Gatesville High School, where he plays football, basketball and baseball.
“I don’t really think about it because people around me, like my coaches and teachers, they hold me to the same standards as my friends,” Roman said. “So, they allow me to be successful at what I do and play at the same level as my friends.”
Roman’s mom, Cassie, says her son struggled early on meeting milestones, like walking, at appropriate times.
He was serviced through early childhood intervention programs and saw physicians, but no one discovered the CP.
Then at 5-years-old, Cassie noticed her son limping off a golf course.
“He had a weird limp going on and he looked like he was hurting but he wasn’t,” Cassie said. “That night, my mom and I were messing with his feet and his left foot was a lot tighter than the other one.”
Several doctors’ appointments and a brain scan later, the family was given the life-changing diagnosis.
The young boy started therapy, but Cassie and her husband, Ruben, decided to not share the news with Roman for several more years.
“I didn’t want him using it as an excuse of a crutch for anything,” Cassie said. “He didn’t find out until Christmas of his 4th grade year. He went to therapy. He went to appointments, but he didn’t know why.”
Cassie says Roman’s disability is hard to spot because physically he doesn’t demonstrate obvious signs and he never complains.
Cassie believes it’s that “can-do” attitude her son developed at a young age that has served him well as a teenager.
Only once, Cassie recalls, has Roman ever mentioned not being able to do something because of his disability.
Roman is currently on the junior varsity football team at Gatesville High School and is getting ready to start basketball, but his main passion is baseball.
He’s played select baseball for years and would love to one day pursue it in college. For now, however, the athlete is taking what he’s learned in life and spreading a message of hope to others.
He recently volunteered to serve as a buddy at a football game for No Limitations athletes, an organization that offers sports to those with disabilities.
“I enjoyed that I was able to give back to my community and let people like me play the sport that they like to play,” Roman said.
Roman says despite his own challenges in life, he’s thankful he can serve as an inspiration to others.
“I play three sports; football, basketball and baseball and I’ve played three sports all my life, so I just never give up on those,” Roman said.
“I feel like I can be an inspiration because even though I have a disability, I don’t really give up on anything.”
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