KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - It is a disorder that affects hundreds of thousands of Americans, and an East Texas boy has found a way to control his case.
Robert Flynn, 10, of Kilgore was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was two years old
Doctors told his parents that it would affect his ability to move and the symptoms could get worse over time.
Robert joined a gymnastics team, and the sport is allowing him to take charge of his own life.
Bending over backwards, Robert is resisting Cerebral Palsy from controlling his body.
"My body felt like it was scared," said Robert. "My muscles started hurting."
Cerebral Palsy is a common disorder that affects muscle control and can lead to other problems and learning disabilities. Doctors say simple movements like standing can be difficult.
"They said by the time he was five that he would start regressing and would not progress," said Cynthia Flynn, Robert's mom.
Following in his little sisters footsteps, Robert joined the Kilgore Acro-Flyer Gymnastics team three years ago.
"When he started, literally, he couldn't do much," said Ada Wells, Robert's coach. "He couldn't even stretch like the other kids."
But, over time, he conquered more than stretching. This summer, Robert and his sister won fourth place in a national competition. The 10-year-old proudly displays his ribbons and medals.
"When they got up there, everybody, the dads, everybody, there was tears because we were so proud of the accomplishment and just the pure spirit," said Wells.
"I feel happy," said Robert.
He is happier and stronger than ever before.
His coach says the stretching and strength training have helped reset his hip. It had been moving out of socket before taking the classes. In addition to physical improvements, Robert's mom says his reading level went up two grades in the past year.
"He went from barely passing to B-," said Cynthia Flynn.
"I'd love to see more children like Robert to come into the gym and just see what we can do," said Wells.
The Kilgore Acro-Flyers are looking for a community sponsor who can help them raise money for new mats and a permanent facility. They do not have a spring floor or legal-size floor to practice on.