Defying cerebral palsy, cancer to enjoy life

By Greg Gelpi

With a distorted figure, slurred language and a limp, many dismiss him, but underneath the man with cerebral palsy is a world traveler, a science fiction buff and an author.

Bill Entrikin, 54, doesn't view himself as disabled or handicapped. He works in the office of WORKTEC, lives on his own and functions without assistance.

"We live in a world of transportation," the Stockbridge resident said. "The only thing that makes me handicapped is not being able to drive."

The hardest part of cerebral palsy is "people recognizing that the brain and the body don't match," Entrikin said.

When he lands a job, he keeps it, he said, nearing his 14th year at WORKTEC. He would be rich, though, if he was paid for the job interviews he has had.

"The toughest part of growing up was being accepted," Entrikin said. "People don't know how to approach me, so they don't."

Entrikin said he often recites authors and quotes some of the books he has read to demonstrate his mental abilities.

He recently received recognition for his writing, winning the Southern California Writers' Conference Award for Best Nonfiction. He impressed judges with his memoirs "Trying to Live Normal in a Disabled World."

Although he wrote his story about four years ago, the same persistence that has enabled him to travel countless times to Las Vegas and places in Europe, prompted him to continue to seek recognition for his book. The book was submitted once before, but that didn't stop Entrikin from trying again.

"I was just sitting there thinking, ?Boy, someday it would be nice to win that,'" Entrikin said.

That day came, and he is now "tweaking" his life story so that he can pitch it to book publishers in hopes that one day it can educate those studying to be special education teachers.

"You laugh, and you cry," said Karen Tate, the WORKTEC rehabilitation secretary. "It's heartwarming."

The same wit he weaves into his writing, Entrikin uses to cope with life. Even when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer five years ago, it took a while, but he turned again to humor and smiled.

"There are too many people who say I can't do it," Entrikin said. "Life is too short."

He also fills his life with music and science fiction, attending several Highlander conventions. He has "thousands" of compact discs that illustrate his love of classic rock. He even attended several classic rock shows, including that of one of his favorite bands, The Doors.

"If music was a narcotic, I would have died of an overdose," Entrikin said.

He grew up in Ohio and graduated from Youngstown State University in business administration.

With all of these accomplishments, he said his only goal left is to get his book published.