Charity Michelle spent her childhood not knowing how different she was. As she got older and experienced hard times all she could wish for was to be normal, but who is to say what normal is. Charity eventually discovered that not only was it okay to be different but that being different is quite beautiful. Whether you are tall, short or can’t use your legs at all, you are amazing just the way you are.
Charity was born in the Midwest in Tulsa, Oklahoma and at the age of 7 moved with her family to Los Angeles, California. At a young age, Charity’s parents noticed she wasn’t walking and would rather roll everywhere so the doctor inserted padding in her shoes and from that point on Charity hit the ground running and never stopped, but after moving to California her life as she knew it changed. At the age of 7, Charity was diagnosed with Charcot Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT), and no, it has nothing to do with teeth. CMT is a neuromuscular disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, there are multiple different forms of the disease and Charity has the rare and most severe form of it known as Type 3 – Dejerine-Sottas. As Charity got older she noticed that she walked differently than the other children and they noticed it too, kids would call her “crippled”, tease her for being skinny and would even imitate the way she walked. Although this deeply hurt Charity she did her best to be nice despite the actions of her bullies. Throughout her school years, she met many nice friends who helped when she needed help. If her backpack was too heavy then the boys would carry it for her, if she stumbled or fell while walking her friends would help her up and when her hands were too tired her friends would help her open her snacks. Charity was very different from the average child and even though she faced a few bullies growing up, she had friends who were there when she needed them most.
During her sophomore year in high school Charity was forced to use a wheelchair due to her school being worried that she would fall and hurt herself, it was very hard for her to accept needing a wheelchair because she loved to walk, run and ride her bike with her friends and siblings and didn’t want any obstacles in her way but all that changed. At the age of 21 Charity received her first motorized wheelchair that she refers to as her power-chair. Does it actually have powers? Oh yes! Charity’s legs became more tired so at the age of 22, she became completely reliant on her power-chair. Did she let that stop her? Of course not!
Power-chair, service dog and all, Charity set out to prove to herself and not anyone else that her dream of being independent and on her own would one day be a reality but another obstacle appeared. During her first quarter at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona right before Christmas break she experienced the most painful and excruciating pain you could ever imagine! Out of the blue while watching her favorite tv show, Law & Order she rubbed her nose and felt a stabbing pain on the right side of her face.