John Graybill II was born on July 13th, 1977 to John and Kathy Graybill. Upon receiving a clean bill of health from physicians on arrival, he was discharged to live a healthy life. And, in fact, the first twelve years of John's life were normal in terms of physical abilities. John participated in little league baseball programs when he was eight years old, basketball programs when he was ten years old, and wrestled in middle school programs, all with no physical difficulties.
At the age of twelve, John was presented with a wonderful, yet challenging, opportunity to work for FORD modeling agency in New York City. John accepted this challenge and entered the business of modeling at a time when his look and size were in demand. Over the subsequent two years, John would often travel to lower Manhattan on modeling assignments with his mother, while maintaining his schooling requirements - typically Monday through Friday half days of didactics. While the local school board allowed John this flexibility, it came with the stipulation of maintaining no less than a "C" average in his class work. John excelled in each area, more than satisfying his schooling requirements and establishing himself in the modeling industry.
John's career in modeling indeed was prospering and a future in the industry looked promising. Yet, at the age of fourteen, his body lacked the physical development of other male models his age. As a result, opportunities dwindled. This frustrated John, causing him to discontinue his modeling career.
In high school, two physical struggles arose. The first indication of a physical struggle involved the way in which John ran. In fact, John's classmates were the first to notice this and, in typical high school fashion, informed him that he "ran like a girl". John's legs didn't rise behind him when he ran. Rather, his legs would motion outwards to opposite sides. The other physical struggle was noticed by John's parents, as he often required assistance with moving a heavy object. Furthermore, John displayed the ability to bend over, but not the ability to retrieve an object of choice.
John attributed these physical struggles to being "out of shape". To combat this, he joined the wrestling squad, yet was unable to fulfill his commitment that year due to season-ending hernia surgery. The following season would again bring the same result for John, season-ending surgery.
Finally, after four years of minor struggles with physical activities compounded by ridicules from peers, John's parents sought the help of University of Pennsylvania physicians. After undergoing a battery of tests, in 1995, (John's senior year of high school), he was diagnosed with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. Upon receiving the diagnosis, John initially envisioned wheelchair bound "Jerry's Kids". Such an image caused John to shy away from learning more about his disease.
While struggling with the burden of his diagnosis, the summer of 1995 did prove to provide John with a positive, life changing experience - his introduction to Dr. Wayne Dyer. Upon first attending his seminar at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania during the summer of 1995, John was intrigued with Dr. Dyer's positive motivational messages. In fact, simply listening to Dr. Dyer's motivational tapes/discs became a positive method by which John would rid himself of the label and limitations of Muscular Dystrophy. Dr. Dyer's message of "seeing what it is you want from the end" helped John see past immediate physical struggles and act as if he had what he desired.
After high school, John furthered his education at Kutztown University, graduating in 2003 with a degree in Psychology (at least partially motivated by the positive influence Dr. Dyer had on his own psychological well-being). Armed with his educational background a desire to do good, John worked to help behaviorally challenged adolescents become more socially accepted in the community. Much of this time, though, was spent in introspection, in which John considered "what is his life devoted to". While pleased to be helping others in dire situations, John continued to feel as if something major was missing. He contemplated if there might be a better, more connective way to help others.
In 2005, John set forth on a course to improve "self" and, in particular, pursue a life of health. The time to confront the stigma associated with the label and limitations of Muscular Dystrophy was about to begin. John began a major overhaul of his body - eating a vegetarian diet, taking supplements, stretching and exercising daily, and most importantly changing his psychology. Life for John would no longer be about selfish financial gains and living the "normal" life of people his age, but rather exploring the human spirit and searching for inner strength.
In the winter of 2007, John and his family formed the non-profit organization, "Beyond Labels & Limitations" (BL&L), to raise money for research dedicated to Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy 2A (LGMD2A). The goal of this non-profit organization is two fold: First, to support rigorous scientific research to find a cure specifically for LGMD2A, primarily through community fundraising events: second, to educate on the disease course and associated struggles, as recounted through my personal experiences. BL&L is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, registered with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations. BL&L receives no government funding and relies solely on the selfless kindness of public donations.