Follow the WDRB Newsroom, Reporters and Anchors.More >>
Tweets from the WDRB Newsroom, Reporters and Anchors.More >>
LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A debilitating disease will not stop a Louisville man from following his dreams, and helping hundreds of children reach theirs.
The shuffling of Brian Heyburn's feet hit the ground with a consistent beat recently, as he trained for a big day. "Hopefully they see someone who is pursuing a challenge. Something that he never thought he could do, or ever told he could do," said Heyburn.
For him, it is mind over matter: "I always say that running is 90% mental, and 10% physical."
By all accounts, Heyburn should not be running, especially not so far. The 24-year-old is training to run 13.1 miles in the Derby Festival Mini-marathon. "It's not something I really saw myself doing. But I was drawn to the challenge of it. I was drawn to, let's see if I can do this. And, if not, that's no sweat off my back. At least I tried."
Brian was born with cerebral palsy after an epidural was mis-applied during a C-section. But he's not just running to prove to himself he can do it.
Brian grew up at the Kids Center -- a place dedicated to helping children with special needs. "I've never heard Brian say I can't do anything," said Lisa Campbell, Brian's physical therapist growing up. He was just one year old when Campbell started working with him. Early on, she knew he would do great things. "So Brian's note said he was not able to sit up, but he was rolling over a bit and crawling. and I walked into the room and he was standing at a piece of furniture. So I should've known then that Brian was going to be able to do whatever we told him he wasn't going to be able to do."
He is no longer the sneaky blonde boy Lisa worked with. "He turned those eyes up to me with that big ole grin," Campbell laughed, as she remembered, "tryin' to hoodwink his way out of therapy by calling me sweet names like honey mustard!"
It was hard growing up with a disability, but Brian pushed on. "Elementary, Middle, High school, there were a lot of hard times that have left some scars as to who I am, what I deal with. And to say I don't still wrestle with that, would be a lie," said Heyburn.
With CP--Brian has overcome many physical hurdles. "A lot of people would be thrilled with CP that you're able to walk and participate in basic daily activities. And Brian has far exceeded all of that," Campbell explained.
Brian has conquered extreme muscle weakness, speech problems, and issues with balance and coordination. "That's a hard race for anybody to do. Again, Brian just anybody. he sees past that disability and decided he wanted to run it," said Campbell. "If Brian can do this, shame on us if we say we can't," she said seriously.
He is running the race to raise money for the Kids Center. "I really feel lucky to be a part of the Kids Center and also be able to benefit from the therapy that I received there to do something like this," Heyburn explained.
But the journey has not been a walk at the park. "There will be days where I just don't feel coordinated." Training has strengthened his legs, but they can still be clumsy, as he recalled an embarrassing time training with friends. "I was with two other friends," he said," and I tripped and fell. In front of them."
But you know his attitude -- he got back up. "I was running with blood coming down my leg. But just try to do the best with what you got," he laughed.
It is what he has done all his life. Done the best with what he has -- an unbelievably positive attitude, perseverance, and a mind over matter way of thinking.
He is not disabled. He is not handicapped, crippled, or weak.
He is Brian Heyburn. He, like the thousands around him, are getting ready to run a race.
To accomplish something he aimed for. To rise above any obstacle. To squash the mindset that he can't do something, because of an impairment.
13.1 miles. He dreamed it. He believed he could do it. He worked hard for it. And he did it. He crossed the finish line.
Brian is heading to the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Fall, to get his masters in Disabilities and Human Development -- a new graduate program which looks into how society interacts with people who have disabilities. Click on the hyperlinks if you would like to learn more about the Kids Center, and how Brian is raising money through running.