When Sandy Morgan wakes up each morning, she has to have a cup of coffee before she turns on her computer and begins her day. But Sandy doesn't get the jitters from the extra dose of caffeine; instead, her muscles do a different dance due to cerebral palsy.
I was introduced to Sandy via SendOutCards, a company that connected us. Sandy has been involved with the company since 2003. "I saw a computer ad for Send Out Cards in 2003, and it has changed my life forever," said Sandy. Cerebral palsy makes it difficult for Sandy to write, but she is able to crank out eight words per minute via the keyboard. "The ability to send cards from home using this online service is a great tool for people with disabilities, as well as non-disabled people. One's independence can be increased dramatically, not to mention increased feelings of self worth, from having the opportunity to send a card and a gift when prompted by a fleeting thought!"
Sandy's involvement caught the eye of Kody Bateman, the founder of SendOutCards. She sent him a card, introducing herself:
Here are some facts about myself: Cerebral Palsy is a trauma to the brain, usually at birth, that basically affects motor skills. I cannot walk so I use a motorized wheelchair. I look drunk because of my involuntary movements (it comes in handy at times when I really am drunk!). My speech sounds like a 45 RPM record (remember those?) being played at 33 1/3. Other than that, I'm pretty normal, whatever that means.
At a SendOutCards convention, Kody shared Sandy's story as part of the "Collection of Stories." The two of them danced together on stage, pausing and moving to the music. Last year, Sandy finished her book, "Dance of Victory." It was through this book that I learned more about Sandy and her life. When Sandy was born in 1948, the prognosis was a grim one and the doctors gave her parents no hope. Given the culture at that time, Sandy could have remained institutionalized, but her parents were determined not to go down that route. Sandy was gifted in the intelligence department and her mother was quick to figure that out.
"I defied all the odds," Sandy recalled. "At 63, I’ve attended school, college, held jobs in education, married (not legally), advocated for the rights for persons with disabilities, and continue serving others through my involvement with the local Lions Club."
I asked Sandy to share some of the challenges she's faced. In an email, she shared her number one challenge: speech impairment. Honest and open, she makes no bones about it. She wrote:
My #1 challenge is my speech impairment. I sound like a 45 RPM record being played at 33 1/3. Most people under 40 don’t understand that concept so I guess I’m giving away my age!!! LOL! My speech is difficult to understand, especially to those who don’t know me. It is the only part of me that I haven’t accepted or been able to overcome.
This challenge affects all areas of my life. Although society has become increasingly aware and tolerable of those with differences, my speech has held me back. It’s difficult to meet new people. I shy away because I feel uncomfortable and, unless someone approaches me to talk, I usually don’t make the first move. Why not, you ask….Probably fear of rejection, not wanting to make the person feel uncomfortable or pretend to understand.
I really feel bad when visiting my little grandkids and nephew. Not visiting often, they’re not sure how to react. Not understanding me, I can’t ease their discomfort with a funny comment or joke.
In August, 2011, Sandy did something bold: she went skydiving. Ken Gazda, her tandem instructor, came up with an innovative way to control Sandy's legs during the jump. He strapped her wrists together and added Velcro around her knees and ankles to keep them together. A pull rope attached to her jump suit allowed Ken to pull up her legs upon landing.
"The jump was an awesome triumph, to say the least!" said Sandy.
To connect with Sandy: