My name is Anthony DeVergillo and I am an Optimist! :)
I have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a muscle-wasting disease. Many people, even those without DMD, are not *Optimistic*. Working Together, We Will Change That.
Despite my disability I haven’t stopped getting involved and trying to change the world at the same time. In September, I begin my second year of college at the community college 5 minutes away from my house. My major is Communications (hence, I am using those skills right now) and I hope to integrate blogging, social media, writing, marketing, and motivating into the career of my dreams. Not many people with my disorder believe that they can go to college and make a future for themselves, and that is one of the many reasons I started The Optimist’s Guide to Life.
Me? I enjoy working on my computer and even have my own website design business called “Anthony’s Abilities.” I also like to write and sing my own songs, play Texas Hold‘em with my family, and go to the movies. In other words, I just enjoy everything life gives to me, hanging out with friends that mean the world to me, and the small things that turn a good day into an amazing day.
How did I find optimism? In short, the English teacher from my Junior year of high school read two poems, “Through the Eyes of a Child” and “From the Outside Looking In” that I had written, to her classes. Once she told them I had written the poems, they asked me to come and talk to their classes about my disease and my perspective on life. This was my turning point in life where I finally felt accepted and knew my voice wanted to be heard. 33 English classes and a blog later, here I am, forever Optimistic.
So, I am just like every one of you reading this blog, except I am in a wheelchair. That’s because I have a type of Muscular Dystrophy called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. As this disease progresses, I lose more and more of my muscle function requiring me to constantly adapt my way of doing things. But this hasn’t stopped me. With my “never give up” attitude, I have gained a spirit that never gives in to my physical condition. While Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy steals my muscle function and independence, what remains strong is my desire to excel in academics and life and to teach acceptance of disabilities, while having fun at the same time.
So far, I have been successful in academics by getting accepted into the National Honors Society and I am teaching you about my disability by creating this blog. But, the most difficult part of being in this wheelchair is the immediate barrier it puts up when trying to make friends. Sure, everyone in my community and school might say hello to me and know my name, but I don’t have the camaraderie of friends that I continuously strive for. But this changes for one week of the year, possibly the best week of my life. At MDA Camp, a one-week camp that I have attended for over the past 10 years, the counselors don’t notice the wheelchair; instead they notice the person in it. The week is filled with hanging out, sports, pranking, campfires, poker, and dancing. By the way, I have danced with over 50 girls especially at MDA Camp. I have continued this same trend at Camp Promise East in Connecticut for the past 2 years. I became too old for MDA Camp, so I was forced to search for another camp, and I am so glad I found the one that I did. Each year I go, I become stronger and feel more and more inspired to continue following my dreams. There is a limitless amount of acceptance at these two camps, so why can’t this continue for the other 51 weeks of the year? With your help, maybe it can…
The next time you notice a person in a wheelchair, instead of just saying hello, try to find ways to include them in your activities so you can get to know the real person who would love to just “fit in.” My motto is “despite my disability, my abilities have NO bounds” and I hope I have inspired some of you to embrace our differences and that by having friends that understand you, can make all the difference in the world.