Tagged with: advocate awareness diagnosis disability Physical Activity wheelchair
Clay Walker, a multi-platinum country music artist discovered his passion for music at the age of 15 competing in community talent competitions. By the age of 17, he wrote and self-recorded his own song and hand delivered the tape to a local radio station. The radio station told the young boy that they did not play self-submitted tapes. However, they listened to his tape and confessed it was “too good to pass up.” He continued singing at local restaurants around Beaumont, Texas until the young singer’s talent was officially discovered in 1993. He has since released a total of 11 albums.
Despite this country music artist’s ongoing success, it hasn’t been the smoothest road.
When the young singer was just beginning to develop a name for himself and with the recent birth of his daughter; Walker woke up one morning to find the life he once knew to be forever changed.
Being athletic all his life, Walker was playing a pick-up game of basketball on a hot, humid Texas day. Walker recalls that while he was on the court, he fell about 5 times and the dreadful memory of not being able to move his right leg. He says that when he looked up at the basketball hoop he would see two of them. What haunts Walker most about his attack was when he went to go pick up his guitar, he could not even hold the pick between his fingers.
Unfortunately, an MRI of Clay’s brain showed the lesions of multiple sclerosis and he was diagnosed on April 1, 1996 at the age of 26.
Clay admits that when he was first diagnosed with MS he had no idea what it was. He had it confused with MD (muscular dystrophy) and he immediately pictured himself in a wheelchair. He said the doctor that diagnosed him also admitted that he didn’t have all of the answers, but told Clay that he would most likely not live a long life, so Clay was absolutely devastated in the beginning.
Despite Walker’s unfortunate confusion about the disease in the beginning he went on to find a neurologist that specialized in multiple sclerosis and started on daily injections of Copaxone to which Clay attributes as the reason he’s been in remission for over 10 years. Clay admits that it took him a couple of years to accept the fact that he had MS. He had always been physically active, but when he received his diagnosis it scared him because he lost his ability and it took a long time to get it back.
“You have to get tough mentally first. You have to have a reason why. You don’t want to fall in love with something that is going to leave you. I didn’t want to do a physical activity and then have it all taken away from me—because I love it.”
Clay now believes that the combination of: receiving his diagnosis of MS, becoming a well-known artist, and doing as well as he is, is a true sign from God that this is the reason why he was put on this earth.
Walker thinks the biggest thing the newly diagnosed of any illness lack is confidence. He admits he was there: heart- broken and feeling like your heart is ripped out of your chest because you received a diagnosis of which you have no control. Having experienced that feeling for himself is the reason Clay Walker does what he does. Clay knows first-hand how hard it is after receiving any kind of heart breaking news such as a diagnosis. He said prior to his diagnosis, he was always a positive person, but when he was diagnosed he “went into an internal cave and everyday was a struggle to stay positive, but now he’s more positive than he’s ever been. Walker believes the biggest reward is when he goes out and shakes hand with the people that have MS and just listens to their story.
“I don’t think you can underestimate the word hope. I think that all of us are looking for that word no matter where we go in life. I think that is what I am to people that have MS. I’m that hope that there is going to be a cure because they see someone who is young, who is strong, and who is not going to give up until we do have that cure. “
Walker claims he now feels very blessed, having multiple sclerosis for over 15 years and not letting it get the better of him. He Claims he loves life, loves singing, and he is determined not to let multiple sclerosis take that away from him.
Walker is a multi-platinum recording artist, a family man with small children when he was first diagnosed with MS, he did not need to publicly share his personal story, but he did. He did not need to create a dynamic organization that was designed to support people living with MS, and to help find a cure, but he did. And although he has a grueling schedule of live concerts he did not need to spend the time he does as a leading advocate in which he founded his own non-profit charity, Band Against MS in 2003, but he does.