WASHINGTON -- Blake Scribner says Easterseals give him his life.
On New Year's Day, the 21-year-old Washington resident will help give life to Easterseals' first float in the iconic Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
Scribner is one of nine Easterseals clients along with three staff members from across the country who were chosen to ride in a float that celebrates Easterseals' 100th anniversary of providing disability services.
"Without Easterseals, I never would have been diagnosed and I wouldn't be able to function like I do today," Scribner said.
Scribner began receiving services from Easterseals when he was 3 weeks old. A brachial plexus injury he suffered during birth resulted in a loss of mobility in his right arm.
Today, after years of therapy and 10 surgeries, Scribner has a full range of motion in his right arm.
"The only thing I can't do is turn my hand over," he said.
The 2016 Washington Community High School graduate is in Illinois Central College's auto technology program. He plans to graduate next year.
Thanks to his work through the years with occupational therapists Angie Delost and Katie Pena, Scribner has lived as normal a life as possible.
He's learned to dress himself, ride a bike, play baseball, cook meals and drive a stick shift car.
Scribner played baseball in Northern Tazewell Recreation Association leagues.
He devised a system where he would catch a ball in a baseball glove with his left hand, transfer the ball to the right hand, take off the glove and put the ball back in his left hand to throw it.
A frequent speaker on behalf of Easterseals, Scribner said he's looking forward to representing the organization and Easterseals Central Illinois on New Year's Day on a national stage in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Easterseals is paying for round-trip flights, hotel and food for Scribner and his family -- his parents Scott and Crystal and sister Bailey, 18, a senior at Washington High School.
Pena, Scribner's current occupational therapist, also is going to California for the parade with her husband.
Peoria Charter Coach Company will provide bus transportation for the central Illinois entourage to and from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. The group will leave Dec. 30 and return Jan. 2.
The Easterseals float is a 20-foot-tall birthday cake iced in white coconut flakes and lined with more than 3,000 hot pink Princess roses.
Flickering anniversary candles, images of people with and without disabilities joined near a swirl of orange and yellow marigolds and gold strawflower, and wrapped packages complete the float.
The Tournament of Roses Parade will be shown at 10 a.m. New Year's Day on WEEK 25 and Heart of Illinois ABC.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.