Last year a 26-year-old film maker with cerebral palsy named Zach Anner uploaded an audition video for Oprah Winfrey’s “Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search For The Next TV Star.”
Anner’s audition video quickly went viral and attracted 9 million views, celebrity endorsements, and won the disabled filmmaker his own show on Oprah’s OWN Network.
Although Anner can display his talents in despite his cerebral palsy, many children who suffer from cerebral palsy are severely disabled and may not be able to work. These children may be eligible for Social Security benefits.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that usually appears in infancy and can permanently affect body movement or muscle coordination. Zach Anner told Disability Scoop that his cerebral palsy will not impact his upcoming travel show in a negative way.
“Obviously my speech is somewhat affected, my movement is, but it’s something that I’ve learned to embrace and make it reflect my personality rather than trying to hide it,” Anner said. “When people think of me, I want them to think of a travel show host who’s really funny and good at his job and I think eventually the CP won’t even play into it, or at least that’s the goal.”
Although palsies may not prevent an adult from working, issues with cerebral palsy impact a child’s development and qualify the child for Social Security benefits. The benefits criteria for Social Security applicants under the age of 18 does not involve the child’s ability to work, but rather the child’s ability to function and the child’s sociability.
Anner hopes that his disability will inspire others. “The key is to never let your disability define you in any way,” he said. “It’s something that you deal with everyday, but find out who you are beneath all the difficult stuff.”
Source: Disability Scoop, “Oprah Network Winner Opens Up About Cerebral Palsy,” Michelle Diament, 3/8/11