YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A Youngstown State student isn’t letting cerebral palsy stop him from following his heart or being a leader in the community he loves.
It’s difficult to tell which is bigger — William Clark’s smile or his heart.
He walked into the Williamson College of Business at YSU on Wednesday with what he calls his swagger — the physical effects of cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a developmental disorder affecting body movement and muscle coordination. More than 500,000 people live with it every day, with varying levels of severity.
“Even though I’m different, I’m no less human than the rest of them,” William said.
He couldn’t walk on his own until he was 7 years old. Now at 25, William has overcome much more than just using a walker to get around.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it — a lot of pain. There was a lot of surgeries and a lot of physical limitations,” he said.
But William hasn’t let the disorder define him. For the past year, he has been studying for the LSAT with a goal of attending law school after graduation.
“If I set my mind to it — I may achieve it differently, I may have to adapt to the surroundings differently, but I can do it,” William said.
His passion for becoming a lawyer comes from a desire to help others — a lesson he learned from his hero, his father.
“Made sure to push me, and to make sure that I used my situation to be an example to others and never to let it hold me back,” William said.
He said it’s not about his disorder, or the way he walks or talks. William is just a person.
“I’ve loved, I’ve cried, I’ve lost and I’ve won things and that’s something that a lot of people forget because they just see the disability. They don’t see the person and the story behind it.”
In May, William ran to be the central committee person for Boardman. He may have lost but for him, it wasn’t about winning. It was about inspiring others and the town he said made him the man he is today.
William is a firm believer that people are given their circumstances for a reason and it’s their choice what to do with them.
“You can lay down in self-pity or you can rise above that and turn your greatest weakness into your greatest strength,” he said.
With a swagger in his step, that’s exactly what William is doing.
He’s thankful, in a way, for his disability because it’s allowed him to understand and connect with people from any community. He wants to leave a legacy that no one is any less human for any reason.