The featured subject of the award-winning documentary "Becoming Bulletproof " needs our help; at of this moment, Ajani "AJ" Murray and his family do not have a permanent home. I became friends with AJ at this year's Heartland Film Festival and have been in touch since. AJ is incredibly humble, funny, thoughtful and a true fan of movies and acting. He's a brilliant speaker and an overall awesome guy!
Photo: AJ Murray and Greg Sorvig.
AJ was born stillborn and was resuscitated, but in that instance a lack of oxygen to the brain resulted in nerve damage and cerebral palsy. Prohibited my muscle spasms and lack of motor control, AJ needs full-time assistance. Cynthia, AJ's single mom, has been her son's primary caregiver for 31 years, making it impossible for her to work and pay the bills while providing AJ with the care he needs.
By donating, you are making AJ's dream of becoming a professional actor come true. Additionally, AJ and his family will have a much-needed support network of friends and caretakers unlike anything they have had for over 30 years!
Video: The trailer for the feature-length documentary "Becoming Bulletproof" - AJ stars as the featured individual.
A LETTER FROM AJ's MOM, CYNTHIA:
Don't take it from me - here is a heartfelt letter from AJ's mom:
A letter to family, friends, caretakers, professionals, and potential supporters all who are involved in the lives of the physical and mentally challenged of this world:
I can never remember a moment in my life when I did not look in my child's eyes and just see him...no disability, just my child. A soul, a person, a human, that pierced my heart and filled me with love, hope, desire, and dreams I never knew I could dream.
Being a mother has been more of a joy than a pain. There are some who refuse to believe this coming from my mouth. They look at my situation as unbearable, a burden, and in some cases a curse. They look at our struggle, they judge me by my decisions, and they compare what matters to them versus what matters to me and somehow what matters to me comes up short in their eyes and it's alright with me. It took me a while to get there, but I arrived and I am at peace because I have learned to live life on my terms not what others think I should do.
Photo: AJ receives a standing ovation in Indianapolis and answers questions from the audience at the Heartland Film Festival.
So here we are...our second time being in a homeless situation. The first time was very scary but we all learned valuables lessons during those 19 months and living in 21 different situations (hotels, strangers' homes, friends, and our car because no shelter would take us as a family with a handicap child). Our options came up short again this time and it was/is almost surreal to travel this road again seven years later. I have a 31-year-old son with cerebral palsy. He is severely physically challenged and needs assistance in every area of his life. I am his caretaker. His two sisters assist me with him and we as a family have experienced everything (including physical pain) as it relates to the life of a person in a wheelchair.
Daily decisions from where to live, social outlets, etc. require thought and precision in order for it to be successful. Many things that abled body people give no thought to have become a lifestyle to us as a family. This area has been the most challenging. Inclusion in daily living, enabling my son to experience life, have his own peers and the opportunity to interact with them, pursue his dreams, make decisions, mistakes, and simply enjoy life according to his terms.
It's been extremely difficult to have healthy relationships even with family members when your child requires a lot of help. It's the limitations that leave you limited in areas of your life. These limitations put you in categories and before you know it you're not invited to certain events, your circle gets smaller over time and in my case I've learned to be recluse because it seems to work better for everyone. It becomes difficult to look into the eyes of loved ones and see their pity or listen to them express how tired they are of your long-lasting struggle that has no ending in sight. If you don't have a support system the quality of your life as a caretaker, a parent, a person with their own dreams and desires and dwindle down at a rate that leaves one resentful and hopeless to say the least. One can't judge the family who decides to put a love one in a group home, nursing home etc. because the work of being a voice, a physical & mental help for a love one coupled with having to care for other children as well as self is a work that is damn near impossible.
To wear all of the hats that are required to run a household efficiently, are a multitude that I have yet to master and honestly I don't think I ever will. Currently we are homeless because I haven't worked a consistent job in over 10 years. AJ was very ill at the end of 2013, I seriously didn't think he would make it this time. He was in the hospital for three weeks, spent 5 days in ICU and with the lack of sleep on my part living in the hospital 24/7 celebrating my 50th birthday eating Lay's potato chips and praying that the doctors find out what's going on with my son who dropped 20 lbs. easily during this time was not the way I wanted to celebrate my birthday.
Photo: AJ and his sisters.
My son has had over 50 operations since graduating from high school. I haven't missed one, and the after care required to attempt to get him back to optimal health is just as rigorous as the hospital stay. His mental state of mind is challenged and he struggles on the daily basis with depression. In the case of my son AJ he has a brilliant mind and he's a big dreamer! He has a heart so full of love that I know the only way I get through my day is to tap into his love which inspires me to continue to fight for him, for us to have the quality of life that we desire.
I have on occasion given thought and action to putting him in a home, and each time when I hear about the restrictions, the rules, and the low quality of life the services have to offer, I find the strength to continue the work of caring for him on my own. Most don't understand and never will because it is my journey. You don't have to walk in my shoes to get the essence of my compassion and my drive to fight and advocate for my son and my family, all you have to do is tap into your own heart and what matters most and what you will fight for in your own personal life.
Photo: AJ signs autographs after a screening of "Becoming Bulletproof" at the Heartland Film Festival.
Yes, there are struggles, but we all have them. I refuse to let them diminish who I am and what I desire. I am a child of God and nobody, no situation, or no circumstance can ever separate me from this fact.
I love being transparent and honest with myself and others. There is freedom in this truth that empowers me. I have been caring for my son all of his life. I've been a single parent to three of the most beautiful children on this planet. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It has been hard, it has been an eye-opener on so many levels. It has allowed me to love without limits in spite of society in its ignorance putting limits on the disabled and their families.
I have more hope today than yesterday. I know that even in writing this letter our help is on the way. I've learned to be tenacious simply because love never fails. I am writing this in my car that's on its last leg but I will ride it in search of a better tomorrow because this is what I do. I don't have a clue what today will bring but I do know through experience that provision will come. Yes, I get scared, I get weary, I get mad, and I don't know the next move to make, but I base my life on a better tomorrow as I know that wanting my child to have a quality of life that we all desire is worth all the blood sweat and tears that I endure. Love conquers all and I will never give up hope!
I hope this letter inspires others to fight one more day...help is on the way!
From a mother who simply loves her child ❤️
Photo: AJ with Rachel and Greg Sorvig.
HOW YOUR DONATIONS WILL BE UTILIZED:
- $2,500: Five One-Way Plane Tickets to LA from Georgia
- $7,000: Housing and utilities for the first four months in Los Angeles
- $6,500: Caretakers to help Cynthia and AJ for the first four months
- $5,000: Moving truck and expenses
- $5,000: Food costs for the move and first four months in LA
- $2,000: Misc. expendatures/GoFundMe costs.
AJ and his family are looking to move in January! Please donate now to help make this a reality.
Thank you so much for your support - every penny counts!
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