Charlie Duffy is a 10 year old girl with Hemi Cerebral Palsy that affects her left leg and hip.
Receiving the initial diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy was probably the most confusing, shocking, and scary two words that could be said to a parent. My husband and I had no knowledge about Cerebral Palsy; how it would affect our daughter and what the future would hold for her. Initially, we learned about the diagnosis by doing research on the internet and attained some information from Charlie’s physical therapist at the time. Her physical therapist was not familiar with the diagnosis nor did she have any training or experience with a person diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy so our Case Manager decided to refer Charlie to (UCP), United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona, for physical therapy and family resources. At UCP our family was welcomed with open arms. The staff was very knowledgeable about CP and had so many resources available for us to explore. Our family knew we had arrived at the right place. Our new physical therapist, Atalie, immediately connected us with a neurologist, orthotics, and orthopedic doctors. Since the moment we met Atalie and became part of the UCP family, our life has been full of hope and optimism, and has changed Charlie’s life completely.
Charlie’s improvements have been life changing, she no longer shows any deficits, physically. This is due largely to the dedication of her therapist who has been seeing her for over 6 years. Charlie has endured years of physical therapy, castings, injections, and bracing. Recently she had a major surgery, which entailed having her Achilles and hamstring cut and lengthened; her femur cut in half; and a plate placed in her leg. Charlie was wheelchair bound for two months and had extensive rehab for the following months after. This journey we are on is lifelong, it will be with us forever. Having UCP and its resources helps us and often hold our hand along this journey and we will always know we have a home there.
Today, Charlie is playing soccer, softball, and flag football. Before receiving any type of therapy and services, she was a child who could not skip, gallop, or balance on one foot. She now wears her brace with pride! As Charlie’s parents, we are watching our daughter grow into the child who can do everything physically and most importantly, maintain her confidence.
We feel so passionate about being able to tell Charlie’s story. People are often surprised when we tell them she has Cerebral Palsy. It is in these time that we can educate people and show them that you can never judge a book by its cover, you do not know what ones story may be and the incredible journey and often massive hurdles they may have had to overcome. We see it as a time to bring awareness, common humanity, and compassion to not only children and adults with special needs but within our community.
Charlie enjoys being a UCP Ambassador, as she feels that she is part of something special, which in turn makes her feel special. She is so proud to be a part of the UCP family; she refers to herself as having “UCP” not Cerebral Palsy. Charlie is an advocate of “Staying Strong” and when you meet her, you will know this little girl is truly one of kind. She exudes such a sense of pride, compassion, and love for everyone. As her parents, we know a large part of compassion comes from the many loving people at UCP. Charlie embodies the “Life without Limits” spirit. United Cerebral Palsy of Arizona will be a part of out lives and Charlies lives forever…. For without them Charlie would not be where she is today.
Charlie does not have a disability… she has the Ability to be whomever she has dreams of being and to do whatever she desires. We will be forever grateful of UCP.
– Heather and Charles Duffy