Student says GC ‘very accepting’ of disabled
While still in the womb, Georgia College student Jon Dahlhauser had a stroke. Six weeks later he had two seizures. His right arm and leg were permanently paralyzed. But he learned to walk. His brain functions normally.
Although, sometimes, his brain tries to use his right arm, and it contracts rebelliously. But he always has a smirk on his face as he walks, dragging his right leg languidly.
“You never really recognize that you only have one hand or that you’re disabled,” Jon says. “I think a lot of people see that in my eyes.”
Jon’s parents raised him to play sports. They bought him a Fisher Price basketball goal, and Jon says he would shoot on it all the time. He got to be better than some with two hands. He can make a half-court shot.
When he was 16, his parents divorced. His grades were slipping, but his siblings stepped in. He moved in with his oldest sister, Christine.
“Thank God I have a large family,” he says.
As the youngest of the seven children, Jon was used to being the only one in the house, but when he moved in with his sister, he took on a different role.
“I had to take on the responsibility of showing them how to do things, of being the older brother,” he says.
Staying involved in sports throughout high school helped Jon remain steadfast and make it to Georgia College.
“(GC) is very accepting of people’s situations,” he said.
In December, Jon will graduate with a degree in theater, and he has aspirations of becoming a motivational speaker or going to graduate school for disabilities studies.
“When I talk individually, I feel like I am already motivational speaking. I feel when I talk to someone, they’re already going to go tell someone else.”
Jon has performed solo shows and is currently working on a poem from Jim Ferris for his poetry performance class
“We’re all crippled/ We’re all disabled,” the poem says.
When he was younger, he looked at his disability as his own problem. But now, he realizes he has something to share with other people.
“I do associate myself more with being disabled because it is such an asset to my life, but I can still detach away from it. It doesn’t consume who I am.”
When he was a child, Jon said he was more self-conscious about his ears than he was his arm or his leg. But he has fielded every question about his arm, from “how do you cut a steak?” to “you can drive?”
Jon always has friends around him, and he always wants to be with people.
“I’m a social butterfly,” he says with an omnipresent smile on his face.
“Living with Jon is not all that different from living with a non-disabled person, except when he asks you for help, you kind of have to, otherwise you’re a jerk,” Will Warren, junior theater major said.
Jon has been a friend of Brittley Blount, senior political science major, since her freshman year.
“His being disabled – he doesn’t let it stop him,” she said, “and he’s always up for anything.”
Jon attributes much of his success to his upbringing. Since he was born, he has been getting chiropractic adjustments. He doesn’t take medicine.
“It’s a revolving door,” he says, “with chiropractors, you get results.” But he does take his vitamins.
After college he also has aspirations of developing his acting career – the next disabled Tom Cruise, he says.
“You are disabled, but you aren’t. We’re all disabled. It’s how you recognize with yourself.