Meet Shea Sakahara
Shea Sakahara is a 12-year old baseball star and community icon, he also has cerebral palsy (CP). Shea was determined to become a baseball player from a young age. Shea walked with leg braces when he was young but with a positive attitude and the help of physical therapy he convinced the doctors that he didn’t need the braces.
"I like being able to show others that everyone is different and that anyone can do anything,” Shea told local reporters.
Shea was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 1 year old. His original doctor gave him a poor prognosis and told his family he would struggle with many activities. When he was 3, he became a patient at the Honolulu Shriners Hospital. Doctors at Shriners Hospital were much more optimistic and this attitude wore off on Shea.
Inspiration From Jim Abbott
When Shea started to play baseball he realized he wasn’t able to catch the ball with his right hand because his right side is affected by cerebral palsy. Instead of giving up, Shea looked to the internet for inspiration.
He found videos of Jim Abbott, a famous former major league baseball player who was born without a right hand. Jim Abbott won a gold medal on the U.S. Olympic Baseball team in 1988. One of his other major accomplishments was throwing a no-hitter as a pitcher for the New York Yankees.
Jim Abbott adapted to playing baseball with one hand by catching and throwing with the same hand. Once he caught a ball he quickly took off his glove to throw the ball with that same hand. After watching videos of Jim Abbott, Shea learned how to mimic his method.
The Giants Take Notice
Shea is a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants. His dream is to someday become the general manager for the team. When the Giants heard about their inspirational super fan, they sent him a box full of special Giants merchandise.
Playing Sports with Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy varies widely in severity. Some kids have an easier time participating in physical activities than others. However, a love of sports can exist in anyone regardless of their abilities. Finding a way to participate in sports can be one of the challenges of living with cerebral palsy.
Many kids, like Shea, are able to excel in sports with extra practice and determination. Other kids have more physical restrictions. These kids may need more creative ways to participate, such as being a team manager. There are also sports and leagues developed specifically for players with special needs.