By Chris Yow
My dad is my superhero.
Sure, most say the same thing about their fathers, but mine really does have a superpower. Since birth, my dad Chuck, has suffered from cerebral palsy. Since today, Oct. 7, is World CP Day, I thought I would tell our story for the first time.
When my dad was born, he was born with a moderate case of cerebral palsy. The use of his left arm is negligible, and his speech suffered for a very long time from the lack of muscle control in the left side of his body. He’s always had spasms in his left arm, but his speech improved with coaching and therapy.
As a child, he was forced to wear a leg brace on his left leg. I imagine he looked kind of like Forrest Gump, if I had to guess. Eventually, though, the brace came off and his ability to walk and run, while not completely fluid, were not impaired too much.
He even played baseball as a kid with just the use of his one arm, and even got a game-winning hit once in little league. One of the most interesting things he told me was he even played football for a time as a youngster.
As he grew older and went into high school, the speech problem continued, but through coaching and therapy, as mentioned earlier, he became part of the debate team!
Needless to say, his determination to have a normal life was outstanding.
Dad was part of the first ever state championship football team at Homewood High School in 1974. That team defeated Dothan for the state championship that season.
Continuing his victory over any speech issues, when he went to college at Jacksonville State, he was a disc jockey and radio announcer for the campus radio station.
After college, he made a home in Dora, a small town in Walker County. There he met my mother and in 1986, the two brought me into the world, something of which I am awfully proud of them.
As a baby, when my dad would change my diapers, he said it was like I knew he needed help, and I would always kick my legs back to my head, making it easier for him to change me. That’s always been one of those things that makes me believe in God’s plan for our lives.
Not long after I was born, though,maybe a couple of years, my parents divorced. My mother, whom I love dearly, thought it best to allow me to live with my dad under his care. It was a wonderful decision.
The 18 years I spent with him were indescribably amazing.
He was my teacher, my coach, my mentor and most of all, my “number one, upside down buddy”. Don’t ask why or how that phrase was coined, neither of us know the answer.
My dad raised me, for the most part, on his own, although with the help of my mom and grandparents, of course. He never missed a ball game or a choir trip or a school event. He was the only dad who always chaperoned choir trips, making him the “Choir Dad”.
He taught me how to play sports and helped me grow a love for them, but most of all, he taught me to be genuine and treat others with respect.
I was lucky to grow up with a man who spent my entire life doing nothing but try to help me grow up into someone as amazing as him. Not that he realized the impact of the way I was raised, because he’s too humble to ever have thought he was something more or better than anyone else.
From the time I was in grade school until last year, he worked as a clock operator for the Alabama Independent Schools Association and Alabama High School Athletic Association in football and basketball.
An accident last year when he fell in his bathroom ended his career in officiating, and that has been more difficult on him than anything I’ve ever seen — except maybe when I left for college.
Nonetheless, though, Chuck Yow has done nothing but work hard, despite his handicap, to give me a life I didn’t deserve, and I hope and pray I can one day be half the man he is today.