Kevin Farmer has been through a lot. And his mother Paula Hartman has been there every step.
“Kevin was born premature at seven months and weighed only four pounds two ounces. He has had cerebral palsy since birth and wasn’t diagnosed with it until 16 months,” said 62-year-old Hartman in a telephone interview. She reads this column in the New Bern (NC) Sun Journal.
Brain damage occurring around the time of birth causes cerebral palsy and affects in varying degrees the brain’s ability to control muscle movement.
Said Hartman, “From when Kevin was age 9 to 17, his father was in and out of remission with cancer at least four times, too.” So at a young age while having to adjust to his own disabilities, Kevin had to emotionally adapt to his father’s declining health and eventual death.
At 1990 New Bern High School graduation ceremonies, well-liked Farmer received a standing ovation when his name was announced before getting his diploma. He then attended college three years split between St. Andrew’s College and University of North Carolina-Wilmington. In part, he never completed his college degree due to having regular transportation difficulties getting to class.
As for today at age 39: “(Kevin) is very bright and uses a motorized wheelchair,” said Hartman. “He is unable to transfer (by himself) to the toilet or bed. He uses his right hand for wheelchair controls. He can also use a computer and has a very good speaking voice. You wouldn’t know he had cerebral palsy if you were to speak with him over the telephone. He loves music and has been a DJ for parties. Just speak to him and meet him, and you will know he is a regular guy.”
Kevin has been living independently in apartments since age 20. A year ago, he experienced a tough emotional setback when a long-time girlfriend, also with cerebral palsy, chose to break up with him.
Today, Kevin lives in Jefferson City, Missouri, where he has friends and is “extremely happy,” said Hartman. “In fact, we (Hartman and her second husband) went out a couple weeks ago to visit. I was curious about him. He’s looking for work now and could get a job as a DJ or in an office.” Even though 1,500 miles away, Hartman still contacts Missouri agencies on her son’s behalf.