In early September 2020, Grappling with Grief brought on a Social Media Manager by the name of Kyler James who GWG founder Jimmy Van knew from another venture. Kyler brings not just experience, but also exuberance and a positive outlook to the role. Kyler also has a great story to tell, and he agreed to share it here for our website visitors!
GwG: You were born in California, and live now in Texas?
Kyler: No I was born in Texas and then moved to California when I was one and moved back in 2009.
GwG: What led to you going back and forth between those particular states?
Kyler: My dad’s work made him go to California to start an office there. He worked for a wholesale company. My mom is from Texas.
GwG: People who chat with you online may or may not know that you live with a physical disability. Can you tell me first what it is that you have?
Kyler: I was diagnosed with Spinal Meningitis when I was about three weeks old and that turned into Cerebral Palsy.
GwG: Now just to clear up any misinformation or even ignorance; is this something you were both with?
Kyler: No. I was born healthy.
GwG: I’ve seen a couple of pictures of you from when you were a kid, and you weren’t in a wheelchair in those pictures. Was that something that you didn’t need until you got older?
Kyler: No, I was always in a wheelchair. I just had more mobility when I was younger and could crawl around more. I had major back surgery and hip surgery in 2005 and that ended the mobility. Oh! I forgot to mention this because I don’t think about it at all, but the doctors told my parents that I’d be a vegetable or wouldn’t have any emotions at all.
GwG: Really when was that?
Kyler: When I first got diagnosed.
GwG: So fair to say they were wrong then huh?
Kyler: LOL Yep!
GwG: Were those surgeries a necessity?
Kyler: Yes, very necessary. My spine was really bad, I had a full spinal fusion and my hip was dislocated and it was rubbing bone on bone so they put a metal plate in there.
GwG: Were those typical effects caused by Cerebral Palsy or was that all caused by something else?
Kyler: I’m pretty sure they are both connected to CP. I also had scoliosis and that caused me to have back surgery. It was basically in the shape of a question mark.
GwG: What sort of day-to-day physical limitations come with Cerebral Palsy?
Kyler: Changing, getting in and out of bed, getting food made for me (I can eat on my own), bathing. I’m pretty much independent where I can be, though.
GwG: I know that you’re close to your family, I’ve seen several of them promoting GwG on Facebook since you started with us. Tell me about your childhood living with CP.
Kyler: I had a great childhood, my family didn’t treat me any different than my siblings. So, in a way, I don’t see myself as being ’disabled.’ I was pretty involved with stuff. I went on rides at Disneyland, etc. and I also did some horseback riding when I was younger; I barely remember it. LOL
GwG: Talk about your school life in your grade school and high school days, what was everyday life like for you there?
Kyler: I went to normal schools. At a younger age, they put me in those special classes, but as I grew older, I was out of those by the time I was in high school. Had good grades and graduated high school in 2008.
GwG: Can you talk about socializing with the other kids in school, how was that, and were you active in any extracurricular activities?
Kyler: I have a speech impediment, so it was a bit hard for other kids to understand me at first, but it got easier for them as they went on. When I was younger, I was in karate for a bit and tried wheelchair basketball, too.
GwG: You mention a speech impediment; is that a verbal impairment caused by CP?
Kyler: Yes, I believe so. Always had it. It got better as the years went on, but it’s still there.
GwG: I think a misconception that some people have when they see somebody with a verbal or physical impairment is that they don’t just have a physical disability but they’re mentally disabled as well. Obviously, that’s not the case at all with you but is that something you’ve experienced with people due to them being misinformed?
Kyler: In some cases. Especially with strangers. They usually come up to me and say, “Heyyyyyyyyy, buddy, how are you doing?,” but they say it with a different kind of tone like they are talking to a five-year-old or something. It is really annoying.
GwG: So how about this, tell me what you want to say to those types of people should they ever see you out in public.
Kyler: Don’t always assume that people in wheelchairs are mentally challenged. That’s what I tell them when they do it! LOL
GwG: You went to school at ITT Tech in San Antonio, what was your major?
Kyler: Cybersecurity, but I didn’t finish it. Felt like I wasn’t learning anything.
GwG: I came to know you through your work with Fightful.com as a Social Media Manager. What were you doing prior to working with Fightful?
Kyler: Just helped my mom with her property management business. Still doing it when she needs something done. I do accounting for the company and I send out work orders to vendors for the properties that we manage. I’m her assistant.
GwG: How did you get connected to Fightful and how did you end up with the job you have now?
I knew of Sean (Fightful’s Managing Editor, Sean Ross Sapp) before he started at Fightful and followed him there and he noticed me always plugging the podcasts, Tweeting out Fightful stories, etc. He asked me if I wanted to Tweet for (a weekly WWE show) and that turned into being the Social Media Manager.
GwG: I know that two of your interests are basketball and pro wrestling. How did you develop an interest in those two things, and what else do you like to do in your spare time?
Kyler: My dad got me into pro wrestling as a kid. We used to watch it together all the time during the Attitude Era (late 1990s). And for basketball, the Lakers were always on in my house during the Kobe/Shaq era and I’ve been obsessed with the team ever since then. Spare time is hanging out with my family, watch sports, movies. Stuff like that.
GwG: Now you’re handling social media for GwG in addition to your Fightful work. Talk about your role with GwG and what your goals are.
Kyler: My role with GwG is to help it grow as best as we can. I want it to reach a lot of people for them to tell their stories. I’ve learned in life just listening to people goes a long way. The more people know your story, the more it can have a huge effect on those that are going through the same situation as you are.
GwG: Perfect segue to my last question! You are a very personable, quick-witted, well-adjusted person who is well-liked among your peers. People may read this who are in a similar position but are having a more difficult time coping with their situation than you. Is there anything that you’d like to say to them?
Kyler: Try to have peace with it and get involved with things that you love. Be a voice in that thing you love. Be positive and know that you are an inspiration for people that see you in your situation and are still doing great in life regardless.
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