It all began at a lake in Orange County, celebrating the New Year.  It was 2001 and I was just getting over a cold.  I had spent a lot of that New Year’s Day cooped away in a tent, trying to keep my fever from returning.

Soon, it was established that I could always be found in that tent, but my brother was nowhere to be found.  My mother, father, and his parents suddenly began a frantic search.  My Nana found my brother in the lake.  He had been there for around seven minutes and in that short amount of time, transformed from a healthy one-year-old boy to a boy with a severe case of cerebral palsy and one three-year-old sister, who couldn’t understand what was going on.

Over time, I have understood the true ramifications of cerebral palsy and the effect that it has had on my brother and my family.  I was never forced to go to my brother’s soccer game when I could have been with friends and I never got to see my brother be promoted from middle school to high school.

However, I have learned the lesson that despite what physical or mental setbacks any disabled person may have, they are still people–and they should be treated that way.

On that fateful January day, doctors concluded that my brother was a “vegetable.”  And yet, I drew a picture for my brother that day, knowing that he would be able to feel my love through scribbles of melted red crayon that had been left in the car for too long during our Palm Springs trip.

Today, I hear the happiness in my brother’s echoing laugh.  I see the fruit of life in his smiles when my Mom walks into his room.  He is not a vegetable.  I know this, but many don’t.

To spread awareness about such a crucial cause, I created the non-profit organization with my Mom, California Cerebral Palsy Care, or CACPCARE.  Our organization helps the Children’s Neurobiological Solutions Foundation, which funds research that goes towards not only cerebral palsy, but other neurological disorders as well.  Specifically, CNS Foundation supports rare neurological disorders because many of them are so rare that they lack any funding whatsoever and many so-called “vegetables” are deprived of basic health care.

My Mom and I made this organization in late October, so it is still fairly new, but we are hoping to kickstart our organization with some small fundraisers each month.  Eventually, we plan on developing a larger fundraiser, equipped with the many affluent people of the South Bay and possibly some donated resources.

Ocean athlete Slater Trout has already extended his support by tweeting and posting on Facebook about our most recent fundraiser at California Pizza Kitchen in the Manhattan Village.  We raised around $300 at that fundraiser with the help of CPK donating 20% of each CACPCARE-flyer-bringing customer’s purchase.

Nonetheless, our next goal is to raise at least $700 at our next fundraiser.  While $1000 within three months does appear to be a steep goal, our organization helps to support an extreme cause, beautiful message, and it is amidst an affluent state where many people are willing to contribute to a good cause, California.

So, my Mom and I would like to ask everyone within the South Bay area of California or even outside of California to attend our next event.  It is on December 15 at the El Segundo Plaza’s the Counter restaurant.  For each customer that brings in our CACPCARE flyer, 15% of his or her meal goes towards helping our cause.

My Mom and I want to change the perspective of how disabled people are viewed and most of all, help diminish the negative effects of disabilities through funding.

No one is a vegetable.