Paddock’s cerebral palsy is mild compared to most, which allowed him to be competitive in soccer and baseball as a kid, even though he would drag his feet and often lose his balance. But his active life was the reason for several misdiagnoses until he turned 11.
Growing up with a physical disability is never easy, and Paddock was the frequent subject of jokes and teasing. “Kids can be tough on each other, especially when you’re different from them,” he says. “I walked on such underdeveloped legs it was obvious there was something wrong with me.”
But his disability often went unacknowledged at home. “[My family] whitewashed a lot of my problems. They wanted to convey that everything was fine and rarely talked to me about my CP,” he recalls.
Inspired by a Boy Named Jake
Paddock didn’t address his disability publicly until he was 30 years old, when he gave a speech at the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation of Orange County (UCP-OC), in California. Sharing his CP experience led him to meet the person who became his biggest inspiration in life: Jake Robert, a 4-year-old boy with severe CP.