Moebius Syndrome - @DavidGarciaLimitless
I am a 6th year chemistry PhD student at Brown University. I am set to defend my thesis this upcoming April and graduate in May. I was born with Moebius Syndrome with defects to my abducens nerve limiting the peripheral movement of my eyes. I was also born with partial hands and no feet. As you know too well, it doesn’t end here and now I will face the real world. And my intention was to pursue a job in biotech but this summer I had a life changing experience during a trip to Paris.
I had always dreamed of going to Paris, and this summer, my dream came to fruition. I was ready to experience many memorable events like eating delicious food, tasting exquisite wine, and seeing beautiful world landmarks. What I didn’t expect was for a few french words to change the trajectory of my life. It all occurred at a very unlikely place, the Champs Elysee metro stop. Heatheran, my close friend and agent, and I had arrived at our stop. We stepped out of the train and began walking toward the exit. As we were exiting, I noticed a mother and her son walking toward us. After taking a closer look, I realized that the boy had a debilitating limp that made it difficult to walk. “You are not alone,” I thought to myself. Difficulty walking was something
I was very familiar with. I greeted them with a smile and said, “Bonjour”.
The mother responded, “Bonjour.” The boy looked up but quickly and shyly looked away. As I passed them, I heard his mother say in French, “Did you see that guy? Did you see his hands? He has a disability just like you, and he looked so confident and happy.” Initially, I didn’t think too hard about what she said, but then my mind started to run and it hit me. For the majority of my life I felt like I was constantly battling the world. It was David versus the preconceptions of society. I felt an insatiable desire to prove to everyone that I was capable of anything. I felt confused not seeing any disabled people in positions of success. I felt aimless without a disabled role model to look up to. I felt isolated in the struggle against
I often remember the exchange I had with the mother and her son by the metro… I remember the mother’s smile. I remember her son’s low self-esteem,
timidity, and uncertainty. I was that boy twenty years ago; since then, I have learned from my experiences which enable me to place trust in myself and my vision. A vision designed to defy and shatter all societal preconceptions of people with disabilities. I now know what I am destined to do in this world and my purpose in life. It is to share my successes and struggles. It is to motivate people to be relentless in the pursuit of their dreams. It is to inspire those who were told they can’t be great. It is to be limitless.
As such, I have decided to pursue a career as a motivational speaker, model, and ambassador for people with disabilities. To begin, I grouped a team of my closest friends at Brown and founded David Garcia Limitless (DGL) on June 28. On October 26, I held a small event at Brown and launched DGL. At the launch, I screened a video that my team and I made to get my story out there. The following day, I released the video on social media platforms facebook, instagram and youtube. If you would like to watch it, here is the link:
I remember that day, a defining day, a lasting moment that began from my walk to the Nelson Fitness Center. I remember working every fiber of muscle, curling 40 pounds up and down and up and down. I remember struggling to pull my entire body, but my chin had to go above the bar, 5, then 10, then 20, then 40. I have never felt better. My experiments were going well, my relationships were strong, and my mind was in a place of serenity. I felt refreshed and overcome with confidence. I walked tall and every step I took that day from the Nelson was with intention, determination, and purpose. but little did I know what was yet to come.
As I continued to walk home feeling the best I have felt, I reached the corner of my house on East Street. “I made it!” Then suddenly it happened, I took one large step forward, then “crack!”The momentum of my body immediately sent forward, my head driving into the concrete. Instinctively, I put my elbows out and along with my knees managed to break my fall. “This… this is impossible.”I felt that the world was at a standstill for a moment, as I layed face down, gazing at my broken glasses, on the dark sidewalk. My prosthetic has broken. You see, this sound, this “crack!” was not unfamiliar to me. I have had heard it many times during my life, but never during a day like this. I was down yet again but I had to get up. I brought my knees to my elbows and balanced all my weight on the right side of my body, as my left prosthetic dragged along. I remember each step I had to take that day. 1 step, then 5 steps, then I paused to check on my left prosthetic. Then 10 steps, then 20 steps, then 50 steps. I reached my house. I was born with a rare neurological disorder called Moebius syndrome and though I have this syndrome, I am not Mobeius. I am limitless.