Photo Story: No Limitations

Mount Pleasant resident Lequan Cantu, 25, was not expected to live past 12 because he was born with a severe a case of cerebral palsy.

Mount Pleasant resident Lequan Cantu was not expected to live past 12. Born with a severe case of cerebral palsy and adopted into a new family just after he was born, he grew up in a big family of nearly a dozen brothers, sisters and cousins.

“Everyone knows Lequan,” his father Kevin said. “There will be little nieces and nephews that don’t know their different aunts and uncles, but they will be able to point out Lequan from across the room.”

Now 25, Lequan is known by his close friends and family as someone who lives his life to the fullest. “He lives past everyone’s expectations,” his caretaker Katherine Newman said. “What a lot of people don’t understand is that he has a physical disability, not a mental one; people automatically assume that they can’t talk to him or he won’t understand.” Throughout the week, Lequan enjoys being with his family, going to the gym, going to Wayside Central to meet up with friends and have a drink or going to Soaring Eagle Casino.

Lequan bought his own house recently, further cementing his independence.  The only things that he really needs help with are showering, feeding, and putting on clothes.” his cousin Kevin Cantu said.

Mount Pleasant resident Jordan Wale helps take care of Lequan when his other caretaker isn’t able to make it in. “I’ve known Lequan since middle school, he let me live with him when I was going through a rough time,” said Wale. “He is the nicest person you will ever meet.”

NoLimitations_01 Mount Pleasant resident Lequan Cantu waits in his driveway for his cousin to fix the dead battery in his accessible van before heading to the gym on Nov. 29, 2012. Cantu has cerebral palsy and was expected to not live past age 12. He currently owns his own house and helps support his cousin, who lives with him. He also has a caretaker that visits him three times per week. NoLimitations_02 Lequan Cantu sits in his living room at his Mount Pleasant home Thursday morning on Dec. 20, 2012. Cantu has six tattoos all representing things he admires, including his love for gambling. Cantu loves visiting Mount Pleasant’s Soaring Eagle Casino and spends most of his time and money there playing blackjack. However, according to Jordan Wale, Cantu’s substitute caretaker, Lequan has struggled with gambling issues in the past. “It’s his life, he loves it there, that’s what he’s all about,” Wale said. “There are times when I need to go pick him up early in the morning because he doesn’t have enough money to pay for a cab to get home.”NoLimitations_03 Lequan Cantu uses his feet to type a message to his father on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 at his home. For the past week Cantu has had problems finding someone to feed him and help him shower since his caretaker’s children are sick and he had recently kicked his cousin out of his house for drug related issues.NoLimitations_04 Lequan Cantu laughs after his relative came up behind him to slap him on the chest in an attempt to scare him before he was lifted into the van on Dec. 9, 2012 in Weidman, Mich., after a family Christmas party. “I got you Lequan!” his relative shouted after running away.NoLimitations_05 Central Michigan University senior Ryan Beaudry talks with Lequan Cantu on Dec. 5, 2012 at Wayside Central in Mount Pleasant. “I’ve known Lequan for about a year and a half now, he is smart as hell,” Beaudry said. “He doesn’t go to school at CMU but he sure as hell parties like a student.” Lequan spends his Tuesdays and weekends at Wayside Central. He goes by himself to the club and looks forward to  drinking and meeting up with friends.NoLimitations_06 Lequan Cantu loads his wet laundry into the dryer at his house on Nov. 29, 2012. “Lequan is pretty independent,” said Kevin Cantu, Lequan’s cousin. “The only things that he really needs help with are showering, feeding, and putting on clothes.”NoLimitations_07 Lequan Cantu laughs while his caretaker Mount Pleasant resident Katherine Newman pulls a piece of exercising equipment near him to use on Dec. 6, 2012 at the Endurance Fitness Center, 4855 East Blue Grass Road. “I hate to see people that think he can’t go out and do this kind of thing on his own,” Newman said. “Lequan picks out the equipment he wants to use and I just help him get set to use it. Since we have been doing this him and I have seen an improvement in the way he holds himself and pulls himself on and off from his chair.”NoLimitations_08Lequan Cantu is lifted off his chair and onto his sofa to watch TV by his long time friend and part time caretaker Jordan Wale on Dec. 11, 2012. “I’ve known Lequan since middle school. He let me live with him when I was going through a rough time,” said Wale. “He is the nicest person you will ever meet, it’s crazy to think he’s lived this long.”