I met Shaun via Instagram, where he left me a comment about how much YoYos had helped him cope with his Cerebral Palsy. After chatting a bit back and forth with Shaun about his story, it really made me reflect on my life and how grateful I am for my health and all the opportunities I’m given.
I’ve told my story a million times now, about how much YoYos have helped me and how I hope they can help other people. But YoYos have helped Shaun far beyond how they have helped me. I hope by sharing his story he can inspire some of you to be stronger in the face of adversity as he inspires me.
“My name is Shaun Sandefur and I have currently been YoYoing for about three years now. When I was born my parents were puzzled at why I couldn’t sit up. They had tests run to find out why this was happening. The test results came back that I had a fatal neurological disease called Ataxia Telangiectasia. Devastated by this, my parents had additional tests run to find out if this was the final conclusion. Thankfully due to everybody’s prayers, and the grace of God, the second test results came back saying I only had mild Cerebral Palsy. So when I was two years old, my parents took me to have neuro- spine surgery in St. Louis. During that surgery the Doctors cut 70 percent of my nerves in my Spinal Column. Before that I had been only able to walk with a walker and within six weeks after the surgery I could walk on my own. When I was eight years old I had a surgery done on both of my Femurs, where the doctors cut and rotated the bones to where they needed to be. To this day I can walk without any pain whatsoever, but with a very bad limp. Limiting a lot of the activities I could participate in with other kids.
My experience with YoYos began in the fourth grade when I saw a kid throwing a simple wooden throw at school. Remembering I had a cheap plastic one at home, I decided I wanted to start doing it as a hobby. Each day I brought my YoYo to school. The other boy and I practiced, and got better and better. During that summer my dad had mentioned that they were having yoyo classes at the local toy store, Fun Things Etc., on our local Main Street. I couldn’t wait to start attending. The teacher of the class was an elderly man who soon stopped teaching the class and left his best student to lead it. Once the new school year had started and I was at another school, I looked forward to every Thursday afternoon, when the class started. I had made a new friend at my school and taught him everything I knew. We soon started going to the class together. By the end of that school year, it was just me my friend and the young yoyo teacher. He told me I had great potential, which made me so happy. I remember the last day he taught me and my friend. He had given me a YoyoFactory Protostar from his collection. That’s when I started taking it seriously.
I started practicing every night by watching videos on youtube. As I got better and better, YoYoFactory quickly became my favorite brand. I bought better YoYos with my own money and practiced everyday at school. Some kids started saying I was weird because I put so much time into it, saying that it was just a toy. This all caused me to stop up until seventh grade when I saw Tyler Severance’s Supernova video with John Ando and Jason Lee on YouTube. I decided I wanted to start getting back into yo-yoing because it was the one thing my disability didn’t effect. I bought a Supernova and have been practicing ever since, striving to overcome this disadvantage I have.
When I have a yoyo in my hands, I feel unstoppable. Yo-yoing makes me feel like I can make up for the other things I am limited at doing. And personally…I don’t mind :).