Jon Trawick is an inspiration who wants to make an impact with the life he’s been given by a caring adoptive family in Hall County.
The odds were stacked against him after coming into the world in Kazakhstan, born in 2004 weighing less than a pound with a substantial brain bleed, too.
With those early impairments, Trawick was left by his birth mother at a hospital, where he would spend the next five months before being shipped off to an orphanage.
There, he spent the next two years and never received proper nutrition or medical attention, which led to many problems with his development as a toddler.
However, his life would change drastically for the better when Holly and Josh Trawick, of Gainesville, were looking to round out their family of five.
It turned out, the 2-year-old, who only weighed about 12 pounds, was going to be a perfect fit when they were introduced at the orphanage.
“He immediately reached out to me and said, ‘mama’” Holly sad. “There was an immediate connection with us.”
Now a 17-year-old senior at North Hall High, Trawick has continued to defy the odds that originated from his childhood physical limitations and neglect, thanks to years of physical therapy and 19 corrective surgeries from various specialists to give him the best chance at a quality life, made possible by his proud parents.
In 2023, he’ll get to round out his high school swimming career with the Trojans, taking part in the 50-yard freestyle, 100 free and 50 breastroke.
Today, Trawick said he walks about 80 percent of the time, while he uses his wheelchair primarily for long distances and to get around during school.
And he doesn’t shy away from the fact that he has a disability.
He was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy after the family returned to the United States with their youngest son on Nov. 7, 2006.
“My disability is what makes me who I am,” he said.
An aspiring doctor who has made all A’s in high school, Trawick has blossomed into a 6-foot-1 young man with solid lean muscle tone who is also accomplished in wheelchair basketball and PowerChair soccer through adaptive sports programs for athletes with a wide range of physical and developmental challenges.
One of his biggest blessings, Trawick said, has been the sports opportunities provided by BlazeSports, an Atlanta-based adaptive sports organization for athletes with disabilities.
“I want other kids like me to know that BlazeSports is there,” Trawick said. “I wanted to play baseball or football, but assumed it wasn’t in the cards. It bummed me out. I want every disabled kid to know, yes, they can (play sports) because there are organizations like Blaze(Sports) out there.”
Over the summer, Trawick reached the peak of his athletic success by winning three swimming medals (two gold, one silver) at the Move United Junior National Paralympics in Denver.
Those medals were in the same events he swims for the high school program at North Hall.
A road trip for his entire family, which includes older sister Alexis, 24, and brother Jackson, 23, all made the journey and enjoyed all the natural beauty that Colorado has to offer, along with eating good food and taking part in some fantastic athletic competition.
“We had so much fun going to nationals,” Trawick said. “The meet itself was phenomenal.”
In college, Trawick plans to play wheelchair basketball, possibly at Auburn University, and study neuroscience.
In the future, Trawick wants to return the favor to other children who face similar physical impairments by going into the field of pediatric neurology.
Yes, medical school will certainly be difficult, if that’s the path he ends up taking.
However, his mother has no doubts he’ll accomplish anything he wants to do.
“Jon’s the kind of person that if he sets his mind to do something, he’ll find a way to do it,” Holly said.
Trawick’s academic proclivity started to manifest at a young age, his mother said.
By the time he was in the seventh grade, he’d already performed well on the SAT.
And over the past five years, Jon’s also made all A’s.
This year, all of his classes fall in the IB curriculum, so he’s already earning a handful of college credits.
That’s a long way from where he started as a timid and underdeveloped little boy who didn’t trust men, Holly said.
However, he soon got used to living on a comfortable farm and spending lots of time on the lake with his family.
An active lifestyle is another thing that has shaped Trawick’s interest in working with children.
Jon said he also likes spending time outside with his dogs.
Trawick’s first Christmas, in 2006, his mother recalls her new son sitting and rocking, while everyone else was going about celebrating the holiday.
However, Jon knew it was unconditional love from the very beginning, even though he didn’t yet know how to verbalize his feelings.
“He got thrown into a loud Southern family,” his mother said.
When the Trawick family made the journey to Kazakhstan, it was a journey steered by faith.
After a two-year process filled with paperwork, the family made the trip without knowing which child they would adopt.
The second orphanage they visited was where they met Jon, his mother said.
With the mother-son bond abundantly clear, they decided that was going to be their baby boy.
However, adoption officials made it clear that this particular child didn’t have a good prognosis for ever walking or being able to perform well in school.
“We knew whatever God had planned for his life, that’s what it will be,” Holly said.
Once they got back to Gainesville, they got the ball rolling on medical evaluations and procedures for Jon.
The first surgery was an eye procedure.
After that, Trawick endured two spinal surgeries to fuse his lower spine.
Then, he had both femurs cut and rotated with rods inserted for stability.
Another surgery was performed to rotate his left tibia.
Before he was done, there were Botox injections to his muscles.
Those procedures were hard for Trawick to deal with, at times, but it also gave him a profound appreciation for the medical profession.
He’s especially fond of Dr. Robert W. Bruce Jr., an orthopedic surgeon with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and his longtime physical therapist Dr. Terrie Millard, who worked with Trawick for about 14 years before retiring.
At North Hall, Trawick has formed a tight bond with his teammates on the swimming team.
Expressing a desire to compete with able-bodied athletes, the other members of the program took Trawick under their wings and helped keep him safe as he learned to swim.
Even as a freshman, Trawick was able to compete in an adaptive 100 free race at state.
“That really lit a fire in him,” Jon’s mother said.