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Gus is Living Life to the Fullest


"Be proud of who you are! That's the message I want every person with a disability to hear. I want them to appreciate everything good they wouldn't learn any other way than by being disabled." - Gus

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at an early age, Gus has faced his fair share of challenges. With help from his friends at UI Health, he is not only overcoming, but also giving back.

"I try to take a positive attitude with me when I volunteer for the Rehabilitation Services Unit at University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System. Every Wednesday, I go there to assist with Wii group therapy, visit patients and find other ways to help out.

Just a short while ago, I was a patient there myself. I was originally admitted to UI Health acute care for an infection. At first, I was uncertain if I would be safe to go home alone after my recovery. Because of my CP, my arms shake a lot and I have trouble walking. I used to crawl on my hands and knees most of the time; I got calluses in my kneecaps from being on the floor so much. There were a lot of things I couldn't do.

My life is a lot better now.

I came to rehab at UI Health to improve my strength and learn how to do things more safely. I learned how navigate life from a wheelchair and manage my spasticity - how to cook from a wheelchair, turn around on a bus, take a shower, eat without spilling my food. After several months, I returned to my apartment successfully - with a new lease on life and a desire to give back.

I love volunteering at UI Health. It's a way I can pay them back for the way they took care of me. I like everything about it. I love the patients - helping them, talking to them. "They are the best people in the world - personal, caring, professional. That's something you don't see every day," says Gus about his UI Health care team.

Today my goal is just to live my life to the fullest. Because of my experiences,
I know how to enjoy the little things. That's what I want for other people, too" says Gus Spells.