Monday, March 9, 2015

Throw The Ball!!!!!!!!

hey guys sorry! lost control for a second... I'm back

In the 6th grade I got the opportunity to go to the city-wide Special Olympics. When most people hear “Special Olympics” they think about a place where everybody wins in some type of way. This is not the case. I was in 3 events and I lost every one. The first event was a 50 yard dash in a wheelchair. I could not use my right hand, so I had to roll the wheelchair with my one hand. So I lost. The next event was a softball throw. Now, here was an event that in my mind, I was really good at. I had been practicing for weeks. I could throw a softball across my whole backyard. No problem. I thought that I had this in the bag. I was the first one in line to throw. You got 3 throws. My best throw was about 10 or 15 yards, not bad. The guys behind me didn’t have a physical disability but a mental disability. I remember watching the whole event as it happened. They gave the kid the ball and said, “Tommy, throw the ball!” And this guy to my amazement, hail mary-ed that ball across the field. I just walked away. I knew it was over. And what was funny about this was that he was not the only one. Everybody behind me was throwing just like him. The next event was my 50 yard dash. I was going to run without a wheelchair, without anything, just running. This was about when I was 14 or 15 so I had been on my feet for a while. I remember that being one of the greatest moments ever. Not the fact that I won, I ended up losing. But because I had just run a race on my feet which any doctor would have told you was impossible. But with God all things are possible. This really helped me build up my self-esteem.

Another thing that happened at Shrine School that really helped me with my self-esteem is the boys were always told to help set up for events, which at another school I would have been told to sit aside and let somebody else do it. But we were told to pull out all the chairs and set up the tables. It was a great time. Little by little, I learned more about what I was able to do. We also had a wood shop class where we got to learn how to make bookshelves and anything anybody else would. We were taught how to sand our projects and stain them. And it was also our responsibility to do it. Nobody else would do it for us. And if we messed up a project, we would just mess it up. At the school I went to, since everybody was disabled, nobody got pity at all and it was great.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Shrine Part 2

After two years of meetings with the teachers and the advocates, I got what I wanted. I got a computer in every room and all of the resources that I needed. It was all great, except I didn’t really feel normal where I was at. So even though I got what we fought for, I decided to go back to Shrine School. In the sixth grade, we would try again to mainstream me, but this time I would only go to another school for one class. So in fifth grade, I went to the school right next to mine which happened to be one of the roughest schools around. It was clearly not a good environment for me to be in. I took French 101. Everything was working out the way it should be. I got good grades, I made friends in my class, the teachers really liked me being there. But one day I was going back to the elevator on my walker. The walker I was using at that time went on the back of you, not the front. Just as I was getting ready to get out of the elevator, the halls were crowded with people and somebody ran down the hall and ran into my back and I fell flat on my face. It fractured my nose. After that accident, my mainstream days were over. From that time on throughout my high school years I went to Shrine School.


High school was really fun because the classes were so small that you didn’t have to move at a quick pace. I remember spending a whole nine months on just the Holocaust. I would not trade those classes for anything in the world. They were the best times because they taught me history and other subjects that I would not have gotten that deep into if I went to another school. A lot of what I learned was not what you would learn until you went to college because we had the time to go through it as much as we wanted to. I remember a classmate and I were really into the Civil War. Our teacher tried to teach us about all the generals that you don’t normally hear about. I’ll say it again, those classes shaped the rest of my life.
Because of the fact that we were such a little school, we went to prom every year to make it feel more like a party because there was only a few of us. Whereas everyone else only got 1 prom, I got 4. On top of all this, I had occupational and physical therapy two times a week at my school. It would require that I got into the pool once a week to loosen up my muscles. We also had field day once a year. What was really cool about field day was we competed against each other just like a normal kids would. Since we were all disabled in some kind of way, we didn’t have any sympathy for the guy in the wheelchair or the guy with the helmet or the one on the walker. In a lot of ways, it helped me grow because it made me think that I was not special and I was not the fragile being everybody told me I was.

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Beginnings at Shrine School!

When my parents were thinking about what kind of school to put me in, there were basically two options of where I could go. I could go to a normal school and be in a special classroom, it was basically like a day care. Thankfully, my parents chose the alternative which was Shrine School, which is a school dedicated to disabled people. What was good about this school is they actually taught you like you were any other kid, and they gave you the one on one time that you needed. In the third grade I was already put on a typewriter. Those first three years of schooling were a time that I really found out that I was just like any other kid, that I could learn, and also that I could get in trouble just like any other kid. In the fourth grade a decision was made to let me go through mainstream school. So I was sent to a “normal” school. Before I went, I was told that a lot of kids may make fun of me and that they may call me names. I was prepared for all of it. However, this was not the case.

Throughout my two years of going to a normal school, I had to fight time after time with the teachers to get what I needed to do my work. It all ended up with me and my parents having to threaten to sue the school just to get a computer in the classroom. My grades at the time went down to an all new low they had never been at before, not because I wasn’t doing my work but because I didn’t have the resources I needed to do my work. This is a very big deal to me still today. I really feel like disabled people should have the opportunity to go to any school they want and still get the resources they need to get the job done.

Monday, January 26, 2015

I CAN WALK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At the age of about 10, I started using a walker. The walker was an improvement from the wheelchair, but I still wasn’t satisfied with a walker. And along with the walker I had to wear braces. You remember the movie “Forrest Gump”? I really had braces like that. They were terrible. Me and my dad would have to force them on my feet every morning. They weighed more than I did. You can imagine me in a walker, but I didn’t move that fast. It wasn’t long before I really grew upset with the walker. I went into my therapy at my school and asked them for crutches instead of a walker. They thought I was out of my mind. I had only been on the walker for a year and a half and I was still getting used to that. But they were used to me asking to go beyond my limitations. I would always be the one to jump off the padding in the therapy room. They would always say that one day I was going to give them a heart attack, and I imagine I came close a couple times. Finally I convinced them to give me crutches. I fell down even more than I did with the walker, but I insisted on doing the crutches instead. At the same time that this was going on, I also was able to talk them into letting me ride a bicycle. They had to Velcro my feet onto the pedals to keep my feet on. There were times that I would go so fast that I would dump over. One time I even broke my front tooth doing it. The one thing you have to understand though, I had three things going for me at the time. Number one, I was in full faith that God was going to completely heal me of my cerebral palsy. Second, I was a kid, and three, I was a boy. I was not going to play it safe at all. But after this it wouldn’t be long that I would go back to my therapy and ask for them to take away one of the crutches. At this point, they thought I was absolutely nuts. But at the same time, there was no use arguing with me. So they gave me one crutch. This took me a long while to get used to. In fact, while I was getting used to one crutch, I still had to use the walker because it was a lot safer. Now something happened one day at school when I was 12 years old, something that I can’t explain. I can’t explain how it happened, I just know that it did. I was in class and we were supposed to do a writing assignment. I looked down and realized I didn’t have any paper. The teacher had already left the room and the assistant was nowhere to be found, but I had to get the paper in order to do my assignments. It wasn’t that far away, the stack of paper had to be about 5 to 8 feet away and I really didn’t want to use my walker to go 8 feet. So I slowly got out of my chair, no one was really paying attention to me, they were all doing their work. One sat in front of the other. I went over and got my paper. On my way back, the teacher came in. She was upset that I would dare get out of my seat when nobody was in the room. She yelled at me for a brief moment. When I got home, my parents had already prepared a barbecue cookout. We had invited one of our closest friends, a friend of the family. I don’t know why I brought it up at the moment, but I did. My dad was outside cooking and my mom was setting the table. I thought this would be the perfect moment to tell my dad, as he walked in the door, that I got into trouble at school today. They asked me politely what I did wrong. I explained that I needed paper and the teacher was out of the room, so I went and got the paper. They both were stunned for a brief moment. Then my mom said, “You did what?” I repeated what I said and they asked me how and the only way I could explain it is I said, “I just did it.” They said, “Show us what you did.” At the time I crawled a lot on my knees, so I crawled back to the end of the hallway and I got up on my feet and walked as fast as I could back to the living room and dining room. They both were so happy that they didn’t know what to say, even though I only could walk about 15 steps before I fell. I still claim that this is the day that the Lord healed me so I could walk. After this, I still used my walker sometimes. But now something was different, I knew in my heart what the writer was talking about in Isaiah 53:5 when he said, “And by His stripes we are healed.”

Friday, January 23, 2015

Walking Towards Wholeness

My mom was a great deal of help at this time. She would do all kinds of exercises and therapy with me throughout the day. She told me that one time, she put me down at one end of the hallway and put Reese’s Pieces in front of me to get me to crawl down the hallway. It took me a couple hours to get down the length of the hallway. She also would stand me up in front of the TV and put pillows all around me, so when I would fall I would fall on the pillows. My mom would document every little improvement and show it to the doctor as proof that the Lord was healing me. She would show the doctor that I was able to stand alone on my own for a minute and a half and that was proof that the Lord was healing me.

For most of my childhood life, I had to wear a helmet because I fell so much. And at the age of 8 years, I got my first power wheelchair. They called it The Pony. It was bright orange. I still did not have a lot of muscle control so I ran into almost everything. But after a while, I got used to it.

Now around the same time, I knew that the Lord was going to have me doing something real great. Even though my speech was terrible, I wanted to be a preacher. You can imagine the feedback that I got from that. So many people told me that it was impossible. It would never happen. At the time I was telling people this, my sister was the only one that could understand. She had to tell my mom and dad what I would say. But still, I had a faith that the Lord was going to heal me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

In The Doctor's Office.

Sitting in the waiting room on the red plastic couch, I wait for my doctor who is a specialist with kids with disabilities. I am nervous. Every time I come it feels like I’m being pressured to find out what else is wrong with me. After all, all I want to do is to play with my friend, not come to the doctor’s office and talk about my disabilities. Across the room is a girl with a mental disability. I watch as her mom constantly wipes the drool away from her face. I think to myself, man I’m glad I’m not that bad. But then I realize that I have a real bad drooling problem as well. The doctor is ready for me. My dad picks me up and puts me on his hips. We go into the cold doctor’s office that has a bed, a walker, and some toys laying on the floor. The doctor comes in. It sounds like he’s wearing spurs, but it’s only the sound of his braces as he’s walking down the hall. He has two aluminum crutches that he walks with. He comes up to me and says, “Hello Daniel,” grabbing my little hands with both his. He asked me to hold out my two hands to grab his hand to test my strength. My left hand is giving a somewhat firm grip. I could barely grip my right hand. He slaps me on the knee and assures me I’m doing fine. “Your strength is really improving.”

Turning to my mom and dad, “Are there any questions or concerns about Daniel and how he is improving?” A notebook appears out of my mom’s purse. “Here, look at this” she said, “I’ve written down everything Daniel’s done for the past few months in this book.” The doctor got a wide-eyed look at the notebook that was filled with notes like, “Daniel stood last Tuesday for 5 seconds.” It went on and on, page after page. Looking up at my mom, he said, “In all of my years of being in this profession, I have never seen anybody make detailed notes of their child’s improvement as you have. I believe that every little achievement that Daniel makes is one little step towards making him whole again. Well Mrs. and Mr. Harris, this is without a doubt real progress, but you’ve got to understand that Daniel more than likely will never be able to do things like children his age do. Daniel will always have difficulty throughout his life. Cerebral palsy can be improved, but it can never be eradicated.”

Friday, January 16, 2015


It began when I was born. At 9 months old, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. A lot of people had opinions on what caused me to have cerebral palsy. One theory is that when I was born the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck, I could not breathe. The doctors had a difficult time getting me to take my first breath, but my mom and my dad told God, “We want him.” At that moment, I started breathing on my own. But because of this, they had to put me in an incubator.
My mom and dad told me that I was completely normal up until 6 months of age, that’s when I had a hernia and had to have an operation. After that I would never be the same. Doctors told my parents that I would never walk or talk normally. But, that would not be the case because God had a different plan. My whole family was determined that I would function as a normal child.
One night at a revival meeting, I remember people coming over to me and laying hands on me to heal me. David Paul was the preacher. All week long my family had told me about this pastor that had the gift of healing upon his life. We already had gone to countless meetings and listened to several preachers talk on the healing of God. My faith began to rise. David Paul was a true Charismatic preacher, and if you want to put a label on it, that’s what my family is also. We got to the meeting, which was being held at a hotel in Memphis. White walls and a white floor and chairs filled the whole room. There was a little platform up at the front with a pump organ. There would be praise every time David Paul began to talk. As we got into praise and worship, David Paul began to call out people who he felt the Lord said that they had a sickness in their body. Several people came up to receive healing. There were men and women falling down under the Holy Spirit. He began to walk the aisles, microphone in hand with a navy blue suit. When he would preach, it was like he was shouting to the crowd. The room felt so electrified. I remember thinking, ‘One day I want to be like that.’ And deep down, I guess I still do. This man came directly up to me and my parents. He immediately laid hands on me. I could feel the weight of his hands bearing down on my head, and he bean to prophesy. I don’t remember everything he said, but I do remember that he knew exactly what I had wrong with me and exactly how long it had been since I had this disease. He said that my whole life would be a testimony and that I would glorify God through my disability.
That night was the most impacting night with my parents. They began to really believe that one day I would be made whole. People ask me all the time when I go to camp meetings and revival meetings if it’s heartbreaking that I walk away and stumble. My parents had always been people of real strong faith, so from the moment I was able to understand, I got told that Jesus can heal you. It would not be for long before I started believing for myself that Jesus was going to heal me.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lets Begin!!!!!!!!

Hi Everyone and Welcome!

Before I began let me just give a short online of what I hope will happen over this year!
So This is a year long book project for me.
1. I'll be sharing my story and my struggles with the term ''wholeness''.
2. Once a week we'll hear for others on this subject. People who have disabilities and are not a shamed of it. starting next month.
3. Lastly, we'll get to hear from those who may not realize their disabilities.

Lets dive right in! Here is my story...

January 2006 I woke up at 4:30 in the morning. The whole house was quiet. My roommate was still in bed. I only had one hour before I had to catch my bus downtown. When I go into the kitchen I know that making breakfast for myself is going to be a real challenge. So, instead of going through the hassle of preparing something, I had gotten used to eating a bagel every morning. Of course, I don’t put anything on the bagel because that would be too hard to do. After I have eaten my breakfast, I think upon the fact that today will be the first day that I will be leaving my own house on a bus to go downtown alone. What will I do when I get down there I don’t know. I’ve never done it before on my own.
At 5:45 I wait outside in the cold for the bus to come. I got outside at 5:25 because I knew it would take me at least 20 minutes to lock the door behind me. The bus shows up at 6:30. I’m about to freeze in the cold. As I get onto the bus, I slowly get out my money to pay. I drop it all over the bus. For a brief moment, I feel that this will upset the bus driver, but for some reason it does not upset her. The kindness of the woman’s face as she said, “That’s ok, I’ll help you pick it up.” After that, she helped me put on my seat belt. I look around the bus. The radiator was leaking. A lot of the seats were torn. And then, before I knew it, we were on our way downtown.

It was a long drive and took about an hour. But then again, I had a lot to think about on the way that day. How would I get around? I had never been alone but for a couple hours, much less a whole day. What if I fell down? What will happen when I get ready to eat lunch? Would there be somebody there to help me? These are all the questions that were going through my mind. But then again, this was an adventure. I knew that God called me to preach the Gospel downtown. I knew that God had a purpose for me in the downtown community, helping the homeless, making relationships with those who live and work downtown. Before I knew it, I had a peace about what I was about to do. I knew that God was with me, and I also knew that this was only the beginning. That every day that I go to ride on this bus was going to be a new adventure, new people to meet, lots that I would be able to touch. The best part of the whole story is this is not how my journey began.

Join me Mondays and Fridays for new posts!