Steven Cervantes, 13, lives at home with his mother, father, sister and 3-year-old niece, from whom he is inseparable. He loves cokes and cheeseburgers, he likes to shoot his BB gun and play with his dogs. He attends middle school and participates in myriad different sports. His favorite sport? Basketball.
The one thing that separates Cervantes from the average 13-year-old is that he has spent the past 10 years in a wheelchair. For the rest of his life, Cervantes will most likely live with a shunt running from the ventricular system in his brain to his stomach to keep his brain from swelling. The thumb-sized scar on the right side of his torso is the only visible sign of his shunt. Anyone who knows Cervantes knows that he accepts the challenge of living with spina bifida with a bold and smiling face, and when those around him are looking for a reason to smile, he provides one.
“He keeps us on our toes, keeps us going night and day,” says his 23-year-old sister Annette Cervantes. “Steven loves to go to church. If he didn’t make us go every Sunday, we probably would not go at all,” says his mother Manuela Cervantes. “When times have been hard, he has stayed strong for us.”