I grew up in the middle of central Illinois.
It seemed I was the only disabled kid in the entire county, although that is not statistically accurate.
I was a huge Shaquille O’Neal fan.
He was my guy, my hero.
Super big, relatable and kind of funny.
I watched every NBA game with Shaq, and I dreamt of playing alongside Shaq, winning NBA titles like never before.
But, as I watched his games, I saw something that dimmed my Shaq-sized dreams.
It was the commercials of kids who looked like me, and even had my disability.
They were always shown in hospitals, wrapped in bandages like a mummy, plugged into a number of devices, and surrounded by friends and family as if the end was near.
Honestly, I know what it’s like to be that kid in the hospital.
I did not need or want to see reminders of my days in the hospital.
Rather, what I needed as a kid was to see kids who looked like me living the dream I had.
After developing personal relationships with many Paralympic athletes in the U.S. and around the world, I realized disabled people can play basketball, and we can win a lot.
That’s why I created Team Trust: to show — and prove — that disabled people, sure, endure some challenges, but we also have very, very awesome lives.
Consumers want brands to show diversity in their ads.
Diversity includes disability.