Advocate does not let disability deter support for others
September 27, 2011
By Tom Corrigan
There probably aren’t many college students in their early 20s who can very nicely express a personal credo they obviously live by.
But then, at 23, Steve Ferreira isn’t just any college student.
“My wheelchair doesn’t stop me from the passions I want to achieve,” he said.
Those passions range from advocating for persons with disabilities to sports to his studies at Bellevue College.
Adopted from Taiwan at birth along with his twin sister Emily, Ferreira grew up in Renton and is a 2007 graduate of Liberty High School. He has had cerebral palsy for most of his life.
With sports temporarily on hold due to a weight lifting injury, Ferreira’s current passion is a petition to get disabled-athlete sports shown on TV.
He circulates his petition around BC and, although it was available electronically elsewhere, just added it to his personal website. Ferreira said altogether he has about 900 names; 185 have been gathered electronically and Ferreira would love to get more names via the Web, preferably from all across the country.
“The intent is to get something on television,” Ferreira said, referring to disabled-athlete sporting events.
He said there are times disabled athletes feel invisible even on the field.
“No one knows about the sports,” he said.
Ferreira isn’t sure how many names he wants to collect, just saying he wants as many as he can get. At that point, Ferreira said he’s not sure whether he should take the petition to a local TV station, a cable company or someplace else. But he said one goal of the process is simply to raise awareness.
Ferreira certainly has plenty of experience with athletics himself.
On the Web
Learn more about Steve Ferreira and his petition at www.steveferreira.com.
“I just feel like a regular athlete when I compete,” he said. “I don’t even think about being in a wheelchair because I’m trying to do my personal best.”
Ferreira was a member of the Seattle Jr. Sonics Wheelchair team from 2006-2007. His teammates voted him the most inspirational player both of those years. In 2007, he received a Physical Education Medallion Award from Liberty.
It was also in 2007 that Ferreira took part in the National Junior Disability Championships. He brought home five medals, three of them gold. Still, Ferreira seems most proud of shotput and discus awards he won after high school.
In 2008, he won a bronze in shotput at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation World Games, held that year in New Jersey.
In 2009, though he did not medal, Ferreira traveled to the world games in Notville, Switzerland. In talking about those games, though he said weather is part of the sport, Ferreira made a point of mentioning it rained during his discus throws.
With the help of BC, in 2010, Ferreira participated in the world games in Olomouc in the Czech Republic. This time, he brought home the gold in the discus with a roughly 9-meter throw. He said his personal best is 13.4 meters.
Ferreira’s mother Mary Ann Ferreira made a point of mentioning BC helped cover three-fourths of the costs of her son’s trip to Olomouc.
“They really stepped up,” she said.
Mary Ann Ferreira had praise for BC in general, saying staff has been willing to help her son as needed without even being asked.
Though his school work has cut down on his public appearances, Ferreira also enjoys being a motivational speaker who has gotten in front of schools, church groups, Rotary Clubs and so on.
“I just talk on my life as a disabled person,” he said, adding that even with his schoolwork he still takes on about two speaking engagements a month. Mary Ann Ferreira said she helped prepare his first speeches.
“I didn’t really think it was going to go anywhere,” she said. “It was really well received.”
At BC, Ferreira studies communications and exercise science. When he graduates in about a year, he hopes to eventually become a personal trainer as well as continue being an advocate for the disabled. Besides his classroom studies, Ferreira is a member of a leadership group at BC and has gone on several leadership training retreats.
“He’s amazing,” Mary Ann Ferreira said. “He’s just so motivated.”
Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.