NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A young man with cerebral palsy is not letting his physical limits hold him back when it comes to his dreams.
CBS2 first introduced you to Thomas Ellenson in 2004 when he was in kindergarten. He is now 18 years old, and Cindy Hsu reports he will blow you away.
Ellenson is now in high school, and his first love is acting. He is able to say his lines through a program called Total Talk.
Using the program, Ellenson explained that cerebral palsy is an injury to the brain.
“I didn’t have enough oxygen when I was born,” he said.
While Ellenson has limited movement and speech, cognitively he’s just like any other teenager. He types his words into this machine, which is then able to give those words sound.
Ellenson dreams of acting on Broadway.
“I’m writing my own one man show, because I know people might not hire me otherwise,” he said.
The play is about Ellenson’s life, and it has a message.
“I want people to learn that people with disabilities are normal; see me, not CP,” he said.
Ellenson loves Broadway so much that he has a review website called Theateriffic.
“I focus on the good in shows,” he said, “because people work really hard on them.”
Ellenson can’t even remember how many shows he’s attended. One of his best friends is actor Christopher Hanke, who has been in four Broadway shows.
“If he wants to be on Broadway, he should be on Broadway,” Hanke said. “He has to fight, and if he fights hard enough, he can do it.”
Desiree Valdez is another dear friend. They met four years ago in an acting program, and while they’re now inseparable, Valdez remembers when they first met.
“I was like, oh my goodness, how am I going to do this? How are we going to make scenes? Can he talk? I mean how does it work?” Valdez said.
But of course, it has worked just fine.
Hsu asked Ellenson how he feels when he’s on stage acting. He said he feels free.
He said his favorite Broadway show is “Fun Home,” the musical adapted from cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir. Ellenson said it is really deep, but also funny.
Ellenson also pointed out that “Fun Home,” with music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics and book by Lisa Kron, is the product of the first all-female team that wrote everything.