We’re so excited to share RJ Mitte’s story with our Orange County Cerebral Palsy community and the CP community across the world.   RJ, and his mom Dyna are the two newest board members of Children’s Cerebral Palsy Movement.

Their story, and others like them, have the potential of building hope and demonstrating that the future can be brighter for children with CP than ever thought possible.  

If you aren’t familiar with RJ, he is an actor, and perhaps one of his most notable roles was as Walter White, Jr. on the hit show Breaking Bad.  

While RJ played a role on television that highlighted Cerebral Palsy, this wasn’t an act.  RJ has CP.  He used crutches in the show, but he walks without assistance, and he credits yoga and his family for supporting him.

We are excited to share RJ’s story, and we asked Dyna a few questions about raising a son with CP.

CCPM: Tell us a little bit about the early years, surrounding RJ’s birth and diagnosis. What was it like to have a child with CP at that time? What were the prevailing treatment methods and services like at the time? How did your family deal with the diagnosis?

 

CCPM RJ MitteDyna Mitte: I stayed in labor for 3 days, and I believe that the doctor waited too long to deliver.  RJ was so incredibly bright and alert that we had no idea of his CP. The earliest indication was the way he used his fingers to pick up objects and his toe walking.

Several Pediatrician tested him and gave no suggestion that he had CP ( he was so smart he fooled them.) They sent us to a surgeon who was preparing to do an operation to sever and relieve the heel cord tightening (if this had been done RJ would have never walked again).

 

CCPM: What is RJ’s full name, nickname, age, what type and level of severity of Cerebral Palsy does he have?

Dyna Mitte: Roy Frank Mitte III, nickname RJ. He has a mild form – controlled by rest, therapy, emotions, and prayer!

 

CCPM: As the parent of a child with CP, what was your biggest fear when he was growing up? How did you overcome that and who was your biggest encourager?IMG_3987

 

 

Dyna Mitte: I refused to let him give in to self-pity. We worked to confront challenges, which included pushing him socially.  We sought to keep him involved in as much as possible.   We had a lot of encouragement from family, and I taught him to depend on God.

 

CCPM: What was RJ’s presentation like in the early years and how did that evolve over time, given the interventions you availed yourselves of?

Dyna Mitte: RJ accompanied his grandmother to purchase a new car.  There was a salesperson who asked if his grandmother would be offended if he referred RJ to Shriners, but it might take several months.  We received a call that night, and within a week we were scheduled in Shreveport. From the time we walked in, we were asked 3 different times when he had been diagnosed with CP.
(It never occurred to us, perhaps we were in denial or naive )  We would travel once a week for the next year from Lafayette to Shreveport. The results were miraculous!

 

CCPM: Did RJ face challenges making friends or being bullied at school? If so, how did he deal with this and what advice would he give now to children with CP facing the same?

Dyna Mitte: He was often bullied, and we tried to shelter him as much as possible. Socially RJ showed a wonderful capacity to show love and compassion for others, and he often won over his bullies.
CCPM: Looking back, what was the biggest challenge you faced in caring for and advocating for him?
Dyna Mitte: Challenge was to help him succeed whatever the opportunities.  Every day we quoted the bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil.4:13.
One challenge was the move from Texas back to Louisiana. The Texas’s schools had wonderful programs. RJ was in a regular classroom but was offered PT, Speech, and OT, as a supplement.
His teachers were great at encouraging him to be a vital part of the class.
Unfortunately in Louisiana, they choose to put him in with all of the disciplined problem children. Learning was minimal. As a result, we were forced to put him in private and home schools. (Blessed with grandparents who were educators.)

CCPM: What would you say to other parents of children with CP? Did you feel like you adequately took care of yourself in RJ’s early years? 

 

Dyna Mitte: The earliest you can get a proper diagnosis and help the better.  Shriners provided wonderful professionals that offered help and suggestions that made both of our lives better.
CCPM: What was the biggest victory you recall experiencing?
Dyna Mitte: The many therapies provided such as OT, PT, speech, massage, nutritional, rehabilitation, etc. gave RJ a near normal life.

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CCPM: How did RJ get into acting and how was he first received by his peers and by the general public?

 

 

Dyna Mitte: Serendipity, upon meeting RJ, his sister’s agent asked if he would like to try acting. (She had no idea he had CP.) The 14 years of work and therapy had paid off.  I call it God’s provision and blessing!

CCPM: What about RJ makes you most proud?
Dyna Mitte: I am most proud of RJ’s love and compassion for all mankind. He has remained humble. He is an inspiring young man (Witty, funny, versatile, and lovable)!
CCPM: Can you share about RJ’s role in hosting the Para-Olympic Games in Rio last year? Were there any eye-opening experiences related to this?
Dyna Mitte: This was an incredible opportunity for RJ to see and appreciate what many athletes had overcome. He felt that he had few challenges in comparison. It inspired him, and made him want to
encourage others even more.
CCPM: If you could share a message with everyone, what is one thing you’d like the world to know about Cerebral Palsy?
Dyna Mitte: Encourage them to live their lives as normally as possible.  Set goals and set no boundaries. All things are possible!

 

CCPM: What have both your and RJ’s advocacy efforts been like related to CP and what are your plans going forward?

Dyna Mitte: It’s been a lot of education for the community at large and helping others to understand and relate to the disabled. Others need to understand that the handicap are capable it just takes them a little more time (Be patient).
CCPM: Is there anything else you’d like to share that you think would be helpful to other parents or families dealing with this diagnosis?
Dyna Mitte: While CP is a challenge, it does not define the person. People misjudge those with CP and don’t realize how much they have to offer.
 

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CCPM: Lastly, for CCPM’s benefit, can you please share your experiences what you feel are the components that go into an effective awareness building and fundraising campaign?

 

 

Dyna Mitte: While our efforts are minimal, RJ has had a platform due to God’s blessing of allowing him to be part of an award-winning show. Writer, Vince Gillian, is to be applauded for his effort to feature one of his childhood friends with CP.

CCPM: Anything else you would like to share???

 

 

Dyna Mitte: There is light at the end of the tunnel! Don’t hold your child back! Be thankful! Demonstrate God’s Love!

The CCPM community is doing a good job of creating awareness so continue those efforts. We believe that these stories of courage and achievement, as well as failures, need to be presented continually.