In Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire AND in All in the Half-Vampire Family, Eric's best friend is a wheelchair user named Joseph Mitchell. In a previous post, I explained about three people who were the inspiration for Joseph, but, since one of those 3 real people has gone very public with his name, releasing a CD and now performing on So You Think You Can Dance, I'm going to tell you that his name is Joel Brown. And he's paralyzed from the armpits down.
Yeah, you read that right: he's paralyzed AND he's on So You Think You Can Dance tonight. Because he can. Dance, that is. I've seen him.
UPDATE FROM 9/7/12: Lila has provided a link for us to see this on youtube. Click here to see this AMAZING performance.
Joel's great-aunt had a HUGE influence on modern dance and children's dance theatre in Utah. I know that well, as she was my very first dance teacher. Her name? Virginia Tanner. Her niece -- Joel's mother -- was my second dance teacher ever.
Joel danced before the accident that paralyzed him, and when he was about 14, his older brother Graham choreographed a number that put both brothers in and out of wheelchairs. And Joel returned to dancing.
I recall when he got a role as one of Danny Zuko's friends in the high school production of Grease. Joel danced so well that anyone not familiar with the role would've thought it was supposed to be for a wheelchair user.
The next year, Joel became the school's student-body president. He also took up tennis, singing, swimming, and rock climbing. "Handicapped" is not really a good adjective to describe the fellow, even if he is paralyzed.
I don't have a TV that actually picks up programs (it plays DVDs, though), so I can't watch tonight's show. But, if any of you watch it tonight, just know that Joel Brown is amazing. (I haven't seen him in a couple of years, but I've heard about his doings now and then.)
And, if you do watch AND you've read my book, you'll understand how the fictional Joseph Mitchell moves, since part of the character comes from Joel.
(PS. People have been getting to this post by searching for how Joel ended up in a wheel chair, so I will add that info. When Joel was 9, he went on a fishing excursion with his older siblings. They were in a car accident, and Joel's spinal cord sustained significant damage. He has never walked since, but he does just about everything else.)