From Our Founder:
What a dream it is for YOU to be here, visiting our site and our vision. I'd like to tell you a bit about how we came to be...
My nineteen-year-old brother, Caleb, who had cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and various other mental and physical disabilities and concerns, is the driving force in my commitment in this venture. However, after spending many years collaborating with educators, doctors, families, and the community at large I have come to learn that there is something missing in our community as it relates to inclusion. The inclusion of ALL of us, to be a team of wholehearted people who thrive on engaging one another and offering opportunities to all people with all abilities. Calebs class will graduate from high school in less than three years. His classmates and many others who have already graduated need us and a place to continue to learn, grow and be inspired to become who they want to be.
I'd like to paint a picture of Caleb for you... Imagine Caleb on his duet-bike that is adapted for various special needs... he is inspired, alive, happy - I know this because he was VERY vocal about it. He yells and screams with joy. He loved the wind blowing in his face and the sunshine beating upon his body. He waved his arms high in the air, as if to say, “Yes – I am here and I am on the move! I can do this! I don’t need easy, just possible!” This is the same reaction that all of his classmates and friends have when they are out in our community participating in every day activities. Activities that the majority of us - young and old - do daily without any thought of how to make them happen: Riding a bike, traveling in a vehicle (that we easily fit in) to go to the movies, volunteering at our church or our favorite non-profit, going out for lunch, creating “refrigerator art” for our families, going to the pool in the heat of summer and so much more.
What we've noticed when we are out and about town is that people - adults and kids alike - who come in contact with us feel inspired and joyful. This is obvious with the looks of wonder on their faces, the friendly waves and “hellos” we receive. Then, there are those folks who jog, walk, and go the extra mile to meet us, to talk to us about what we are “up to today?” They want an interaction and to learn more about how we experience life with all the extra equipment along for the ride.
These encounters spur people to take action, to learn, to grow - this is exactly the goal of Gotta Be Me, to offer programs that bring people together regardless of limitations, to build us all up and to support one another in this journey called life! This is a newer venture for our community, as no other program exists of this unique combination of experiences for our adults with disabilities.
The worth of having heard Caleb and his friend’s belly laugh as loud as possible – sometimes all the way across the park and seeing the connections that are made with other people is truly priceless.
On behalf of Caleb John Clifton, and all persons of all abilities in our community, thank you for visiting and we hope to see you soon!
Tiffiny C. Clifton