First Person Singular: 15-year-old memoirist Ryan D’Emidio


Ryan D’Emidio, 15, of Lake Ridge, is a self-published memoirist. (Rebecca Drobis/For The Washington Post)
May 22, 2011

I love cerebral palsy. It makes me try harder and be kind. A few years ago, I talked to my older sister, and I specifically told her, “I want to write a book.” No one told me I couldn’t, and she said she’d help. I talked to my mom about what happened when I was born. It was frightening. The doctors said if I lived, I would be a vegetable. I was in critical condition for three years. I got lots of shots. We had to take all my medicine everywhere we went, even Disney World. I was sick a lot. Not happy times.

I put the people who have helped me in the book. I put my teachers in there, even the yelling one. My family, my bus drivers, my tutors, my doctors and my friends and my coaches are in the book. I know a lot about people, because I listen. For example, my swim coach has 16 cats. She really likes cats, but she taught me to swim like a fish.

If people read my book, I want them to smile. I want people to think, “Ryan would help me if I needed it.” If they were in a wheelchair, I’d push it. If they couldn’t get their food on their own, I’d get it. If they need help with their math homework or want me to sing at their birthday party, they should call me. I want to read [my book] at schools, so kids know it’s okay to talk to their parents when they’re scared and frustrated. Kids should know they can always be successful in their heart.

I can sing. I can act. I can write a book. I’m really good at math, especially multiplying. And I know a lot, I mean a lot, about the NFL. I know teams’ history. If there’s breaking football news, I put it on Facebook. Everyone loves football, so I’m a good guy to talk to about that. I don’t have one favorite team. My favorite team is the winner.

I have goals: Be an actor. Sing where lots of people can hear me, specifically at a football stadium. Go to high school and try out for the dance team. I would love to be a father. I have all the names picked out for my kids. I know what fathers do. They go to work, they feed their kids, they love their kids. I love to wash dishes, so I’d be a good father who also washes dishes. I’d like my job to be a broadcaster, because they make a lot of money and get to talk to people all day. I think “SportsCenter” should hire me. That way, when I meet famous football players, I can give them my autograph! Can you put that in the article, so I get the job?

Teen writer Ryan D'Emidio. (Rebecca Drobis/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

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