How Disability Awareness Got Started
My name is Chris Lenart and I was born on June 7, 1969. When I was delivered, I was not breathing and my mom was bleeding pretty bad. On top of all that, there was only one doctor in the delivery room, so he had to work on both of us because we could die. Thankfully, we both survived.
When the doctor told my dad that he had a son, he also said that I had 50 50 chance of living. During the next few months, my cousin who is three weeks younger than me,” started to crawl and did other things that I could not do. So my parents took me to the doctor and they were told that I had Cerebral Palsy and they should just take me home and love me
I went on to college to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and I had personal care assistants who helped me with daily activities like dressing, eating, etc. During college, I attended a retreat at the Newman Center. They accepted me for who I was.
I made a lot of friends who helped me with studying and we did fun things together and felt I was a true friend. Before then, making friends was rough because they didn’t really want to get to know me. God showed me that I could have friends. A lot of these friends are still in my life now.
I received my bachelor in Computer Science in 1994. After I graduated, I received a full-time position as an Associated Business Analyst. While I was working there, I received my master’s in Software Engineering fromDePaul University in 2008. I ended up being a Senior Business Analyst when I was let go in 2009.
Chris can be booked to speak to your group or organization, telling his story of overcoming his disabilities and raising awareness of the disabled. If you just want Chris to come and talk, that can be arranged too. To book him or find out more information, use the form below.
While I was working, I started a diversity group for employees who had a disability. It gave me great pleasure to talk about my Cerebral Palsy and how it didn’t stop me from having a full life. The enthusiasm to talk about my life didn’t stop but just grew into something that I love to do every day. I co-wrote a book entitled “They said We Couldn’t” with my friend Lisa Cesal about our lives with Cerebral Palsy. We want to spread the message that people who have Cerebral Palsy can do anything they want in life.
I am a public speaker who talks about my life with Cerebral Palsy, and my education. I also talk about my faith journey with having a disability. By sharing my story, I want to be an asset to society and my testimony is always from the heart.
Besides all of this, my parents took me to therapy at DuPage Easter Seals and worked with me so I could have a good life like any other kid would have. I started going to school when I was three years old. The education that I received was what I would call babysitting because they didn’t actually teach us much. Besides that, I rode a bus an hour each way. My mom fought for my education for several years and she finally got me into a better school program.
When I was placed in the better program, I was already two grades behind for my age. As the years went by, I was being mainstreamed for more and more classes. When I got to high school, I was mainstreamed for all of my classes and was on the honor roll all four years. I was in the Honor Society when I graduated.