No obstacle is too great for 9 year old Adam (‘Manny’) of North Texas! Encouraged by his family and his Angels of Care nurse, Manny is constantly working to achieve his fitness goals and show the world that labels do not define us. From CrossFit to Camp Xtreme, Manny is always looking for a new challenge!
When Jessie was 21 weeks pregnant with Manny, her doctor told her that he would be born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a rare birth defect which affects the lower spine. She was encouraged to have an abortion performed, but instead she says that she depended on God to guide her because, at the time, everything seemed “scary and unknown”. After his birth, Manny spent a period of time in the NICU and then, when he was a year old, he underwent an emergency surgery in which he received a colostomy bag. Over time, Manny’s health improved and he is now a vibrant, active 9 year old. His mom and dad remind him daily that the world is his oyster and the only person that can limit him is himself. Their goal for him is that, upon graduating high school in the coming years, he will be able to be an independent young man capable of chasing any dream he has.
Manny’s interest in the world of extreme sports gave his Angels of Care nurse, Tabitha, the idea to start taking him to CrossFit with her. “[He] is amazing,” Tabitha, told us. “He’s not somebody different when he’s out in public versus when he’s at home. He’s genuine […], sincere, and very funny.” Angels of Care paired Tabitha with Manny back in May of this year and their connection was immediate. His family loves the friendship he and his nurse have developed and they are very proud of how motivated and inspiring he already is at such a young age. Over the course of the summer, Manny, Tabitha, Jessie, and younger brother, Jamon, began spending three hours a week at Revival Fitness in Trenton, Texas. According to Tabitha, the owner was a little nervous about Manny working out with the rest of the group, but by the end of his first class she wanted him to show the other kids how “it” was done! They started his workout slow just to ensure that he wouldn’t overdo it and get too sore. As the summer progressed, Manny worked on his core and arm strength through ring pull ups, push-ups, wheelchair sprints, sit ups, handstands, dumbbell swings, bench pressing, and more. Manny’s dad, Michael, even had the opportunity to work out alongside him one afternoon and see just how dedicated his son was in the gym. By the end of the summer session, Manny was bench pressing about 65 pounds! During our interview with Manny’s family, he even demonstrated a handstand for us and told us that he is “a beast at lifting bars”. For motivation, Tabitha hung one of her CrossFit gold medals on his wall, telling him that it was going to remain there until he earned one of his own.
Outside of his CrossFit training, Manny is just like any other kid—he loves going to summer camp! In fact, his favorite summer activity is going to Camp Xtreme in Houston, Texas. It is a 5 day wheelchair sports camp where kids have the opportunity to be independent from their families and partake in adaptive summer camp activities. Manny shared stories about how he went kayaking, swimming, scuba diving, fishing (he caught 5 fish!), horseback riding, skeet shooting, hand cycling, and he says that even attended a dance. The mission of this camp is to encourage kids that have physical disabilities or mobility impairments to become independent, self-aware, and confident through team-building activities. Throughout the week, camp counselors took photos and videos of Manny competing in events and having fun with his friends, then shared them with his family. Manny met his two best friends at this camp and he loved being able to show off his skills in all of the different physical activities. He even told us that he’d enjoy being a counselor there one day!
Between his support system at home and his own determination, Manny is unstoppable. This awesome kid is always looking for new ways to have fun and meet new people. A fundamental moment in his life was during the first year of Wheelchair Bodybuilding, Inc. when Manny and his family had the opportunity to meet founder Nick Scott. While they were there, Manny and his family were treated like VIPs and had time to meet and chat with the incredible role models that make up the team. His favorite Wheelchair Bodybuilder was Harold ‘King Kong’ Kelley, the very first Mr. Olympia Wheelchair Champion. After meeting him, Manny gave his strength a true test when he arm wrestled ‘King Kong’ who has since become a dear friend to Manny’s family. Later on, Manny actually got to go onto the stage and present ‘King Kong’ with his first place trophy. His mom says that he then proceeded to perform a walking handstand in front of the body builders and the crowd, showcasing his own strength. Kidnetic Games provided another opportunity for Manny to meet some incredible people, such as Aaron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham, an extreme wheelchair athlete who performs adaptive BMX and skateboarding stunts. Manny met ‘Wheelz’ at the Kidnetic Games this year where Manny placed first in archery and received his first gold medal. These inspirational adults have been sharing their journey with people around the world for years and Manny is striving to one day do the same.
As Manny grows older, he is trying to figure out who he is as an individual. His parents constantly remind him that he is inspiring, to be thankful for what he has, and that God made him who he is for a reason. Jessie is so proud of her son and told us, “[Manny] leaves an impact on people everywhere he goes […] and I’ve never known anyone that does that.” His story is just beginning it is will be so exciting to see what he will accomplish next. Everyone at Angels of Care Pediatric Home Health loves each and every family that chooses to trust us to fulfill their child’s home health needs. Each child has their own story and their own gifts that make them unique and we can’t wait to share more of our families’ stories!
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