Overcoming challenges and raising awareness for United Cerebral Palsy

I’m going to kick this blog off with some words near and dear to my heart, from a good friend I’ve known for many years… Brian MacGregor. 🙂

It is rare that I have an opportunity to write about someone in whom I have such profound affection and respect. It is also not often that such an opportunity be so personally relevant, intimate and dear to my heart.

The friendship that I share with Jordan was initially sparked through on line bodybuilding message board dialog that we frequently shared. The world of message boards is so anonymous and you can come across many people of different walks of life. This was no different with Jordan and me. We have vast differences in our lives. Jordan, being a young, single, man in his early 30’s living in PA. I am a husband and father of three, in my early 50’s and live in AZ. We did find, however, through further message board dialog, that we were traveling a common road in our passion for the sport of bodybuilding.

As all of you know, this sport requires that we be willing and able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of our present physiques, and that we implement the actions required to turn our present physical weakness into a physical strength. Much action is required on our part. Training, diet, and rest disciplines are all prerequisite to actualizing our goals. At the end of the day we can only do so much with what we were born with. For few that is a blessing that is a blessing in disguise.

For many of us this sport is a whole person experience and lifestyle. By developing and nurturing the disciplines and character traits that are required to successfully and happily live this lifestyle we can also master the disciplines and character traits that we need to be successful in many other areas of our life. The sport of bodybuilding is a platform for the lifestyle of the lifelong transformation process that we desire. It is the passion for the process of self-improvement, self-discipline, and the mind, body and spirit connection that Jordan and I share in the sport of bodybuilding.

We all have a starting point from where we begin the transformation of our lifestyle. The process will take time, discipline and patience. The process may not be easy, pleasant and pain free. We will all need to make sacrifice. We will all have physical and psychological barriers and obstacles that will hinder our progress. We will all make mistakes along the way. There is no short cut to the process of becoming what we want to become in the physical aspect of our lives. The process will not work if we are not committed to doing whatever it takes.

If we honestly assess our strengths and weaknesses, establish achievable short and long-term goals and develop and implement a successful program we all have a tremendous potential for success.

I have come to believe that there is really no way to become what we truly desire, without being truly honest about our strengths and weaknesses and the way that we look at them. Exploring of strengths and weaknesses, how they manifest themselves in our lives, and how to accept and overcome them is where Jordan and I share many courageously candid and intimate details of our lives. It is in this place that I have found a friend, a friend who I keep as close as a brother.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, though Jordan and I have many vast differences, there is a fellowship that we share and it’s relevance I will attempt to share with you as well as I can.

There are many aspects of our relationship that at times are extraordinary and more than just happenstance. There are many aspects and parallels of the trails and tribulations in the process of self-actualization that we share. Many of these I have hardly shared with Jordan, or anyone, as they are at times very profound revelations on an intimate and deeply personal level.

Those of you who know Jordan know that he has a lifelong disability. His disability occurred just before birth. It was in his mother’s womb, during birthing labor that his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and restricted blood flow to his brain. This restriction of blood flow caused irreversible damage to his brain. The name for the condition is cerebral palsy.

Most of us who have been delivered into this world under traditional and normal circumstances have experienced the customary trauma of being born. Let’s face it; leaving the safety, warmth and comfort of our mother’s womb and traversing the birth canal is the first, and in some cases, the most traumatic event that we will experience in our lives. It has been several years and I am still recovering from the experience myself.

Jordan has never known a normal life, as we would consider it. Though his disability is not as extreme as many others who are afflicted with cerebral palsy, it is rather significant and handicapping to many aspects of his life.

When you take at look at Jordan today you see that a whole lot of his successes have to do with what Jordan believes about the limitations his cerebral palsy has put on his life. When you consider how physically limiting the handicap of cerebral palsy can be and was to Jordan you can understand how important what he believes about himself has to do with his ability to overcome these limitations.

We all have experiences throughout our lives that shape us or develop us into who we are physically, emotionally and psychologically. All experiences, negative and positive, are ingrained in who we are. Some experiences are a process that takes place over a lifetime and others are immediate experiences. Some are born with physical and or psychological struggles. Some develop physical and or psychological struggles over the course of a lifetime. Many people over a lifetime experience physical neglect and or abuse that leave physical handicaps. Many people over a lifetime experience psychological neglect and or abuse that leave psychological handicaps. There are far too many us, more than some care to realize, that carry lifelong physical and psychological handicaps and limitations to one degree or another. The spirit with which we embrace these handicaps and limitations has a tremendous influence on our future and the future of those we influence.

When Jordan was born he became destined to be someone who was going to have a lifelong challenge with cerebral palsy, at the very least, and possibly the very best. The fate of that destiny is entirely in his hands when he considers the opportunities that the challenge would provide him.

Jordan has a life that he wants to live. He wants to live it on his terms, as much as is possible, within his own physical power. By every account he has just as much, if not more passion for life as any one of us. He wants to make a difference with his life. He wants his life to have purpose.

A thing I find most spectacular about Jordan is that Jordan is solidly and comfortably grounded on the fact that he has been blessed with a tremendous opportunity to make a difference. Period! Jordan is most passionate in his belief that he has been blessed with an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others who are afflicted with cerebral palsy expressly and precisely because he is afflicted with it himself.

The human instinct is to change our circumstances and condition to meet a purpose that we desire. We strive to change things we cannot accept rather than accept things we cannot change. All too often we fail to recognize that some circumstances and conditions are intended to allow us, even more so, empower us to fulfill an other purpose.

In order to become an influence and inspiration to those who desire to overcome the lifelong and potentially overwhelming disability of cerebral palsy, you have actually had to been born, lived, struggled and overcome as someone who is afflicted with cerebral palsy. It would appear that Jordan is a textbook example of what it is to be one who overcomes.

Jordan is actually doing a lot more than just overcoming his own personal struggles with cerebral palsy. Jordan has educated and employed himself in the field of social work. His work is specifically related to assistance and rehabilitation for those with physical and psychological disabilities. Not only is he personally involved with helping others he is intimately connected with their struggles. Jordan’s empathy is a tremendously invaluable asset to those within his influence and care.

The influence that Jordan has had on me is not what I had first expected it to be. The age difference between us has me old enough to be his father. Considering I have been around the block a couple times, I have had my full share of trials and tribulations. I figured I would do some mentoring and take the kid under my wing. I really had no idea the life changing relationship I was in for.

I have recently overcome in a lifelong struggle with issues related to physical and psychological abuse, abandonment and substance abuse. At the time I met Jordan I was in the early stages of rebuilding and restoring some broken areas of my life. Many of the broken areas of my life had been broken from the earliest years of my life. My parents divorced when I was young and my father chose to relinquish his parental rights and obligation and quickly disappeared from my life. My stepfather was intimidating, abusive, violent and alcoholic. I am basically a textbook product of my environment with a lifetime of wreckage behind me and a lifetime of recovery ahead of me.

There were many times that Jordan and I confided in each other about various struggles we were having in our lives. There were many trials that Jordan supported me through. There are many things about my relationship with Jordan that have had an impact on my life. But there is one in particular thing that sticks out the most. Jordan made me realize that in order to become an influence and inspiration to those who desire to overcome the lifelong physical and psychological handicap of abuse, abandonment and alcoholism, you have actually had to been born, lived, struggled and overcome as someone who was afflicted by abuse, abandonment and alcoholism.

Jordan has helped me to realize that sometimes the pains and struggles we experience in our life can be the very thing that grooms us for a purpose. The courage and perseverance it takes to endure and overcome a lifetime of struggle develops strength in us where one day there was only weakness. What once was a handicap has now developed in us a powerful tool of character, inspiration and influence.

Jordan and I also share a faith in God. We believe that God created us perfectly and with a purpose. We believe that all aspects of our lives are designed to fulfill a purpose that he has destined for us. We believe that through our abilities to overcome our struggles He has made us fit to serve.

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

Philippians 1:6
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Jordan has supported and encouraged me on many occasions as I have endured personal struggles. He has been my advocate when the opposing forces seemed insurmountable. His sincere and honest interest and concern for my cares and struggles has endeared him to me. Throughout our friendship he has been like a brother to me. That is why it is only natural for me to encourage and support him in a cause he is most passionate about. I ask you to join me in supporting my friend Jordan as he tries to give back to a group that has been a very influential part of his life over the years.

“To help raise awareness and support the cause, Jordan has teamed-up with UCP in creating a one-of-a-kind Overcome silicone wristband. For $5 you will receive a Hunter Green wristband that has been made in the US with ECO friendly materials, per Jordan’s request. The word “Overcome” complete with a barbell emblem printed on one side and “TheUnlikelyToad” (whom many in the bodybuilding world know Jordan as) on the opposite. Embossed on the inside, the motto “OUTWORK”, which has inspired Jordan throughout the years with continued friendship and support of IFPA & NGA natural pro bodybuilder Layne Norton. 100% profit of this fund-raising event benefits United Cerebral Palsy of Central PA.”

Please join me in showing your support for Jordan and his passion to give back to UCP by purchasing a one of a kind Overcome wrist band at http://www.xfmuscle.com (see comments section below). Even if you don’t know Jordan, it is a great way to help out an organization that has helped so many others. If you do know Jordan you know that you will be showing your support for someone who is destined to make a difference in the lives of all he touches.

Thank you all for letting me share a small glimpse of the kind of man and the kind of friend I have found in Jordan Frantz. He has been a tremendous support and inspiration to me for many years. I only hope that some day I am able to be as much of a positive influence to others as he has been to me and so many others.

Sincerely yours,

Brian MacGregor  “B5150”

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(Dr. Layne Norton and Yours Truly)

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