NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Gordon Reynolds is no stranger to students on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University, but behind his smile is a story that he's using to help others not define themselves by their limitations.
"We are all told by ourselves, or someone else that we can't do something, why let that define you?" said Reynolds, who was born with cerebral palsy. When asked if he allows his diagnosis to hold him back in life, he said the answer will always be no.
"A disability is more than physical, it's mental, it's what you believe you can't do," Reynolds said. "If you think you can't do something, that is the definition of a disability, I believe I can do anything, so I don't have a disability. Just a different way of living."
He shocked hundreds of his fellow students last year, after being confined to a wheel chair for almost two years, he walked around the SFASU track, cheered on by the ones he inspires most. When he's asked how he is able to remain positive about his condition, he said he has too many things to be grateful for.
"We live in America, and we can pursue what we want, we can be who we want, so why do we have a bad day?" Reynolds said. "I was given 17 years of a pain free life, and as long as I remember how blessed I am, that's what matters."
Hunter Boyd, one of Reynold's best friends happens to also be his fitness coach. He said that Reynolds has not only shaped him into the person he is today, but he does so while inspiring others and teaching them to never give up.
"When Gordon sets a goal we dominate it, we don't just barely meet it or almost make it, no we dominate it," Boyd said. "His determination is just contagious, when people come up to me and they're complaining or down I just tell them to look at Gordon, with a smile on his face, and it puts everything in perspective."
Cerebral palsy has over 280 different types, and Reynolds' falls under the "unknown", category. This brings on a lot of unknown and constant pain, but he said he uses that as a reminder of all he's been through.
"I can feel my body again, so this pain is a great thing that reminds you you're alive, so why not make the best of that," Reynolds said. "You have to be willing to walk through a storm. Life isn't what happens to you it's how you react."
For Heather Johansen, their friendship began on the campus of SFA and she said ever since the day she met him her life has never been the same.
"It's impossible to not be changed in some way on the inside by knowing him," Johansen said. "I am just so completely thankful to know him and have someone like him in my life."
She said Reynolds is sometimes in more pain than he would ever let on, but he wouldn't change his diagnosis for the world.
"He is so thankful for everything that he is been through and says all the time he wouldn't trade it because it gives him a way to instantly connect with others and totally change their perspective on life," Johansen said.
It's important to Reynolds for others to know that if they have a loved one or child that's been diagnosed with cerebral palsy to never allow the world limitations to put a barrier on what they can do.
"You should never give up on your child or loved ones, never treat them any differently and let them know that no matter what, you believe in them, and they have the potential to be and do anything they set their minds too," Reynolds said.
He said he was always taught to love others unconditionally and to share his joy with with the world regardless of his circumstances. He said at the end of the day a story means nothing if it is not used to help others.
"That's why we are were here. Whatever we go through we can help someone else get through it. Help them better transition, Reynolds said. "Life is what you make it, so why not make it better for someone else?"
After Reynolds graduates from SFASU he hopes to open his own tax office and help police officers and first responders have the resources they need to be financially stable. He also said he will use his love for math and numbers to open a consultant firm that helps under privileged and poverty stricken families learn how to manage and grow their money.