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At just 21, Zarius says his personal mission is to “take the ‘dis’ out of disability.” As his fans on YouTube can attest, that is exactly what he is doing.

Zarius was born three months early weighing just 2 pounds and 3 ounces. He spent the next several months in the neonatal intensive care unit. Zarius’ mother says she knew something was wrong.

“Around the time he was 6 months old, I noticed he wasn’t reaching the same developmental milestones that my older son did,” Darius’ mom Jeanette said. “He wasn’t sitting up by himself and he wasn’t trying to crawl.”

Concerned, Jeanette made an appointment with Zarius’ pediatrician. Zarius was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP), a group of disorders affecting muscle tone, movement and motor skills. CP hinders a person from moving in a coordinated and purposeful manner.

Soon after his diagnosis, Jeanette sought out the expert pediatric orthopaedic care provided at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville.

After numerous surgeries and years of hard work in physical therapy, Zarius is now completely independent. “He does everything for himself,” Jeanette says. “He gets dressed, eats and goes out with friends. His dad and I never have to help him. None of this would have been possible without the care Zarius received at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville. Our family will be forever thankful.”

Knowing how much hard work and determination it took for him to become independent, Zarius wanted to encourage other kids with disabilities. He began mentoring younger children with disabilities at a camp in Troy, Alabama.

“I was hoping that having a counselor working at the camp who had a disability would encourage the campers,” Zarius says. “I thought they’d be able to relate to me a lot better than a counselor who hadn’t been through the same types of things. I want the kids to know they have to speak up for themselves and that they can do anything they put their mind to. I think that is especially important for people with disabilities.”

The dictionary defines a disability as 'lack of adequate power, strength, or physical or mental ability; incapacity'. Zarius says that his condition does make doing things more difficult, but he doesn’t let that hinder him. He displays this determination and strength for his campers. Zarius is known for locking his wheelchair, moving onto the floor and smoothly lifting his legs high into the air before proceeding to do 45 seemingly effortless upside-down pushups. One of Zarius’ campers captured him on video doing the activity and posted it to YouTube so that Zarius can inspire other people across the globe.

“If I can touch just one person, let alone two or three, everything I’ve been through has been worth it,” Zarius shares.

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville offers multiple treatment options for CP depending on the type and severity of each case.

Meet some of our other special patients.