Stephen's Duck Collection
How Stephen’s Duck Collection Changed His Life

Hi! My name is Stephen. I’m 25-years old. I live with cerebral palsy and I’m a rubber duckie collector. I enjoy watching TV, movies, cartoons and football. I love music and listen to everything from pop, country and rock to worship music. I also love technology. It has been a game changer for my music and lets me connect with other people online.

Stephen smiling with duck collectionWhen I was 3 years old, I watched an episode of VeggieTales about “King George and the Ducky.” I still have it on DVD. I also love “Lucky Duck,” a Disney movie about a rubber duckie rejected because he couldn’t squeak but was determined to find a kid who would play with him in the bathtub. I started collecting rubber duckies in elementary school when I heard Ernie on Sesame Street sing the “Rubber Duckie” song. I play it while taking my bath.

After my sister was born, my dad put a rubber duckie under my head. When my dad gave me a bath, he would squirt the rubber duckie and it made me laugh so hard. I played with it every time I took a bath. One evening I could not find it. It made me sad so I bought a new one and started collecting rubber duckies!

In high school, I stopped collecting them because I was afraid the other kids might pick on me and say mean things. But I still thought about them. In my junior year, I got a Green Bay Packers rubber duckie. I didn’t tell anyone because I was shy and scared of getting embarrassed.

In the summer of 2016, I was in the hospital with pneumonia. I was angry with God and felt like he abandoned me. I was weak to say that, but thank God I survived. It was scary. When I got out of the hospital, the first thing I wanted to do was take a bath with my Green Bay Packers rubber duckie. My dad put it in the bathtub and the next thing I know I am collecting rubber duckies again! I will play with them forever and I’m not afraid to share my collection anymore.

Today, I have about 600 rubber duckies and I bathe with 15 of them at a time. I love the classic yellow ones and the squeaky sound when you squeeze it. I’m inspired by Charlotte Lee, who has more than 9,000 rubber duckies. Maybe one day I will be like her and have a lot of rubber duckies!

Having cerebral palsy can be challenging but I am very independent. I’m very grateful for the support I receive from Easterseals UCP. I was popular at school because I’m a little spark and that spark is special to my family and my friends. Even though I love my rubber duckies, my smile is how a lot of people know me. I am very passionate about my faith and the kindness that I share with the world. My rubber duckies also help with my grip on everyday things like the TV remote control and my phone, although I use my toes to type and operate my devices. I am blessed to have these gifts.

I have three big dreams for the future.

  1. Keep collecting rubber duckies.
  2. Stephen's Duck Story

    *Update: Stephen published his book! Click to purchase.

    Finish my children’s picture book, “The Adventures of Bubble Boy,” about a superhero trying to save rubber duckies before bath time.

  3. Get a bigger bathtub so I have more room to play with my rubber duckies.

I love rubber duckies so much! I can’t take a bath without them. They make me feel happy and it’s a stress reliever for my anxiety. Thank you for checking me out. I hope you enjoy my story.

About Easterseals UCP
Easterseals UCP North Carolina & Virginia is a trustworthy, compassionate partner providing exceptional disability and behavioral health services to help our neighbors live their best lives. Purpose, dedication and empathy drive our service delivery. Our diverse and inclusive 2,300 member team provides more than 9 million hours of meaningful support to 22,000 kids, adults and families in 11,000 home and community locations.