Channing Doyle
Special To The Record

This story was written by Channing Doyle, a junior news writer at West Orange-Stark High School. It appeared in the high school newspaper, Mustang Message, on December 16.

As the dark blue curtains gracefully opened at Beaumont’s Julie Roger’s Theater, Senior Ja’Marcus Corks stands nervously waiting for the performance to begin. He has spent two months preparing and perfecting his voice just for the 2011 All Region Choir Performance. He has succeeded through three rounds of eliminations and was chosen as one of the best baritones in the area. This moment is very sentimental to him. It is now his time to prove his talents to hundreds of people.

As he looks across the audience gripping the rails of his walker, millions of things roam through his mind. Although this is a very special time for him, he has not always passed through life with ease. Ja’Marcus was born with cerebral palsy and was put into foster care at about two weeks old and later adopted by his foster parents at the age of five.

“My biological mother was unable to care for me,” Ja’Marcus said. “I was blessed to be adopted into a loving and caring family and by two awesome parents.”

Ja’Marcus first learned of his disability at the age of four after being sent to the doctor multiple times. His parents were aware of his disability but decided to let the doctors explain it to him. The doctors diagnosed him with cerebral palsy which is a non-progressive and non-contagious disability that causes complications in human development, structure, and body movement. They explained to him that he suffered a brain injury that damaged his cerebrum which controls his hand and leg motions and other various things like hearing and seeing when he was born. The doctors assured him that would never walk.

“Although I was young, I fell into this barrier hearing the words you will never walk. You will never be able to do the things that a normal child does,” Ja’Marcus said. “It made me feel like why am I alive. I tended to ask myself that numerous times.”

Ja’Marcus was forced to navigate with a wheelchair and wear glasses to improve his sight. Haunted by the words that the doctor told him, Ja’Marcus found a way to cope with his disability. Prayer.

“I did not know much God but I did know that he was there for me through whatever,” Ja’Marcus said. “I started praying every night hoping that God would grant me the desire to walk.”

And he did. Two years after disappointing news from doctors Ja’Marcus started physical therapy at the age of five. He then learned to walk with a walker.

“I had faith that he would answer my prayers and he did,” Ja’Marcus said. “It enabled me to do so much. I have been thankful for it ever since.”

Growing up with cerebral palsy was a huge struggle for Ja’Marcus. He was forced with struggles every day. He attended elementary school at Bancroft Elementary where he barely interacted with other students.

“I remember Ja’Marcus being very unsociable in elementary school,” Senior and long time friend Allen Daniel said. “He allowed his disability to get the best of him and he stayed away from others.

Elementary school was the most difficult time for Ja’Marcus. He spent most of his time trying to push others way. He wanted to be able to do things independently and often felt sorry for himself.

“Elementary was so tough for me because I had no one there to push and drive me into doing certain things,” Ja’Marcus said.

Due to the lack of friends while growing up, when Ja’Marcus hit junior high he developed a bitter personality which was noticed not only by his classmates but his teachers and peers as well.

“He would not let anyone help him or do anything for him,” Senior Robert Duhon said.

He allowed his frustration with his disability to take a toll on him. Different people described him as selfish rude, and as some would say “big-headed”. This personality toward others pushed potential friends and opportunities away. It also caused his own wish and desire for friends and acceptance of everyone to be denied at the time.

“Knowing that my own wish was denied by my own actions made me feel like one of the biggest jerks in the world,” Ja’Marcus said. “By the end of my eighth grade year I was instantly and genuinely sorry for everything that I had done”

The Summer entering his freshman year, JaMarcus visited a home for disabled children and some adults in Houston, Texas. The moment he stepped into that building changed his life and opened his eyes to reality. The home was a shelter for disabled children and adults on both walkers and wheel chairs. Ja’Marcus was outraged at the sight of people with gifts and dreams but too lazy and unwilling to fulfill them. It tore him apart to see people like him that were able but lacked desire to conquer what they had in store.

“It made me look at myself and realize how blessed I was to be able to walk, run, and be surrounded by others,” Ja’Marcus said. “From that day forward I vowed to always be a positive influence and example that although I am disabled, I am able to do so many things.”

Entering high school Ja’Marcus changed in numerous ways. He was no longer the rude and arrogant person that people saw. He ventured off and began socializing with others more. He became friendlier and loved each and every day.

“Ja’Marcus has changed in a lot of different ways from when I first met him,” Video Production teacher Lacey Hale said. “He is very appreciative of life and leaves such a positive impact on others.”

Many of his peers and adults have noticed a huge change in his attitude and personality.

“When I first met Ja’Marcus he often felt sorry for himself and would refuse any assistance given to him,” English and Journalism teacher Meri Elen Jacobs said. “I have witnessed him develop into a happy, independent man who has realized that he has a lot to offer and is now doing that.”

Whiled in high school, Ja’Marcus has been involved in many activities such as Key Club, Culinary Arts, Library Club, and Mustangs for the Master which is a student leadership worship hours. But the most important thing that he is involved in is choir. Ja’Marcus first joined choir his sixth grade year but became fully involved his freshman year. He was a member of the Junior Varsity Choir his first two years of high school and later became a member of the Varisty Choir his junior year. While in choir Ja’Marcus has been a state competitor once for Solo and Ensemble earning a one at State.

“Ja’Marcus has been very successful in Solo and Ensemble and All Region Choir competing at the state level and receiving superior ratings,” Choir Accompanist Brenda Lee said. “He has matured and as a musician he has shown remarkable improvement.”

Ja’Marcus was also selected as one of the top 10 baritons in Southeast Texas this year in the 2011 All Region Choir.

“It was an honor to have him represent West Orange-Stark High School at the TMEA Region 10 High School All Region Choir concert,” Choir Director Laurie Ebarb said. “It is a rewarding pleasure to be his choir director and witness his wonderful bass voice.”

Not only is choir an important part of his high school career but baseball is too. Although his disability sets him back from playing on the actual team that does not keep him from his favorite sport. He was given the honor of becoming baseball manager his sophomore year.

“Being the baseball manager is a rewarding and fun job itself,” Ja’Marcus said. One specific person on the team has actually been a great inspiration to Ja’Marcus. Head Coach Shay Landry has always had a close relationship with Ja’Marcus and actually pushed him to get the job as manager.

“Ja’Marcus is great help to the team,” Landry said. “He is always there joking around and helps out with everything.”

If you can’t find Ja’Marcus singing with the choir, managing the Mighty Mustangs baseball team, or participating in his other clubs then you can definitely find him at his church. He spends most of his time there worshipping God and helping out around the church. Although his parents practiced the Baptist religion Ja’Marcus found Pentecostal to be more suitable for him.

“When I first visited the church I felt God in a different way and at ease,” Ja’Marcus said. “Pentecostal is definitely the religion for me.”

Now in the midpoint of his senior year Ja’Marcus has set many goals for himself such as graduating high school, attending college, and hopes of starting a family some day. He plans to attend Texas Bible College in Lufkin, Texas and study Christian music.

“I want to attend college there to get a more in depth look into the doctrine of God and learn to play a few instruments while I am there,” Ja’Marcus said.

Ja’Marcus has showed people that he is able to do a lot of things although he is disabled. He has changed a lot of opinions of himself from others point of views.

“Instead of saying I can’t do this he now finds a way to say I can do that,” Meri Elen Jacobs said.

He has made numerous friends, allowed others to see the real him, and get to know him on a personal level.

“He is really sweet to people, very strong willed, and positive,” Freshman Gabrielle Nation said. “He puts others before himself a lot and loves to joke around.”

Although Ja’Marcus has had many struggles in his lifetime, it has made him stronger and given him the drive to fulfill his purpose in life.

“I believe that God has sent me here for a reason,” Ja’Marcus said. “To help others and show that nothing is impossible no matter what obstacles you have along the way.”