Photo: Stand-Up Comedian, Motivational Speaker and Substitute Teacher Steve Way. Source: TheSteveWay.com
No matter the boundaries that some may face, there are several people who manage to push past them, and serve as an inspiration by going above and beyond. One of these people is 27-year-old Steve Way.
Steve Way currently works as a substitute teacher by day, and a stand-up comedian at night. However, the path he took to get to where he is today isn't a path that most usually take. Since the day he was born, Steve Way has struggled with muscular dystrophy. Despite this, Way continues to do exactly what he wants--which is, to share his story and show others that it is possible to be positive when life brings on unexpected challenges.
This is why Steve Way is an inspiration for those living with the challenges brought on by muscular dystrophy.
First, who is Steve Way?
At a very young age, Steve Way began sharing his story and served as a spokesperson for those suffering from muscular dystrophy. Being just 10-years-old (when others his age may have just started to play with Legos, or beat one of the hardest levels of Crash Bandicoot), Way began public speaking.
Some of his most notable talks have included his presentations with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, where he talked about what it was like to live with muscular dystrophy. In addition to these public speaking events, Way has gained recognition for his work as a motivational speaker, a comedian, as well as an advocate for disability awareness. As being a stand-up comedian, he has made his audience laugh for over six years, traveling around both the New York and New Jersey areas.
His very first gig consisted of a stand-up comedy show where he performed in his hometown of Rutherford, New Jersey. Since then, Way has made an appearance as a comedian at the 2011 Bamboozle music festival, as well as a co-host for a monthly stand-up comedy show entitled “The Lockdown,” located at the People’s Improv Theatre of New York City. As if these amazing feats were not enough, Way has also been responsible for co-creating and starring in a web series by the name of Uplifting Dystrophy.
While Way has traveled around New York and New Jersey in an effort to make people laugh, he also has been able to serve as a voice for patients suffering from muscular dystrophy. As an advocate for awareness, Way took part in a movement known as the #CripTheVote in order to bring disability rights to the forefront of the 2016 election. Way also joined as the official spokesperson for LifeVac, a company that manufactures an instrument that serves the role of preventing choking deaths and removing blocked air passages.
Upon initially being brought on as a spokesperson for the company, Way commented, "I am very excited to be selected as the official spokesperson for LifeVac… I represent a group that is vulnerable to choking. The Heimlich maneuver cannot be used on people who are wheelchair users. Arthur [chief executive officer of LifeVac] has created a truly life saving device that can benefit everyone but has special meaning to the physically disabled. I look forward to spreading the LifeVac message of 'Save a Life'."
In addition to serving as a spokesperson for the company, Way has also gotten the opportunity to be featured in a BuzzFeed piece that included a total of 10 individuals, all of which discussed how they are able to live with disability and illness. In the piece, Way mentioned, “Despite my disability, I’m still a regular guy. I’m a substitute teacher, stand-up comedian, actor, and motivational speaker. I can be just as funny or as big of a douchebag as everybody else, and I’m going to live my life how I want and not let my disability get in my way.”
All of these appearances serve as a reminder for those with similar conditions that so many opportunities exist today that enable one’s voice to be heard. In this pursuit to have his voice heard, Way has been able to inspire all those who have the fortune to meet him.
What is muscular dystrophy?
While commonly referred to as simply “muscular dystrophy,” the severe health condition has many different forms, and is most often seen in more males than females. While each one has its own set of distinct characteristics, the disease is still defined by a progressive weakening of a patient’s muscles, with the eventual loss in their physical abilities. Other common symptoms that are associated with the different types of muscular dystrophy include, trouble breathing, waddling gait, stiff muscles, muscle pain, struggle getting up, learning problems, as well as struggles with jumping and running.
Each classification of the disorder originates from a particular gene mutation, a gene that is ultimately tasked with protecting the body’s muscles tissue. When this gene does not function properly, the symptoms of muscular dystrophy will begin to develop.
While no cure currently exists for muscular dystrophy, patients are still able to make use of different types of treatment plans. These techniques can help to slow the progression of the disorder, which can ultimately serve the benefit of creating a higher quality of life for affected patients. Some of these approaches include the use of medications and various forms of physical therapy.
In terms of the medications, doctors will often prescribe a specific type of steroid (known as a corticosteroid) and another medication that aides in a better functioning heart. On the other hand, physical therapy can include help with breathing, leg and arm braces, low-impact exercise, and stretching exercises. A more extreme treatment can include surgery, which is commonly necessary for the most severe cases of muscular dystrophy, as the patients are unable to breath properly and require the realignment of their spines.
The future for patients with muscular dystrophy
One of the first necessary steps in terms of combating the difficult ailments that come with muscular dystrophy includes raising awareness. Various organizations, events, and spokespersons such as Way, exist in order to spread this word and educate individuals about what life is like to live with muscular dystrophy. In addition to the potential learning outcomes, raising awareness enable funding for the all-too-important research that strives to find a cause.
With the increase in studies has come a more refined way of treating muscular dystrophy, which can be vital for the patients diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and their loved ones. These efforts can include the advancement of certain technologies that enable better mobility for patients. With the increase in awareness and research, patient with this disorder can be one step closer to conquering their battle, and serving as inspiration for of those around them.