31 Days of SMA: Gabrielle Runyon

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by Kevin Schaefer |

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Day 24 of 31 Days SMA Topic: Being a Teenager with SMA This is @gab.davetta’s story: For the first part of my life I didn’t feel different. I was just Gabrielle. Sure, I would get stares from kids and adults alike or even the occasional “What’s wrong with you?” To which I would smile or wave and say “Nothing is wrong with me.” I was a bubbly kid, very outgoing and could talk to anyone. I made friends quickly and both my teachers and peers seemed to love me. I was even a cheerleader for both schools I went to. This all changed in middle school. In elementary school I had tons of friends because kids didn’t see me as different. No one ever talked about my chair. I didn’t feel different. In middle school, everyone treated me differently, including some teachers. The kids would stare and whisper whenever I was around, the teachers would treat me like a baby. A student asked me in front of the whole class about my disability and the teacher did nothing. Wanting to feel “normal” like I did before, I decided to try out for the cheerleading team. I saw the coach and asked her if I could try out. As soon as I approached her she looked at me like I was an alien. She said “This is different from elementary school and there’s going to be lots of tumbling but, if you get back in touch with me we can schedule a different tryout.” I emailed her three times but never saw or heard from her again. These events and how I was treated changed my view of the world. I became closed off and less talkative. I lost my voice and the twinkle in my eye was gone. I went into a shell until high school. I tried to put myself out there and I tried cheerleading again. The coach said the same thing. And it wasn’t until the beginning of junior year that I found myself again. People still treated me differently, but eventually I learned that I couldn’t control what they did or thought about me. I would have to deal with it and show them the true me. For most of my life I have struggled with my diagnosis of SMA and how I’m different, but I now realise having SMA isn’t something to be ashamed of, but something to be proud of. #SMAAwarenessMonth #SMAAwareness #31daysofsma2020

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