West High graduate focuses on abilities, not limitations.
WASHINGTON – When visiting the nation’s capital, Tyler Greene likes to stroll along the National Mall and gaze up at the statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When Greene admires the memorial of the country’s 32nd president, he sees a great man who led the nation through some of its darkest years, a man who happened to use a wheelchair because of a disability.
“They actually have a statue of him in his wheelchair, which is really cool to see,” Greene said.
Roosevelt’s life represents an ideal Greene, 18, is dedicated to spreading. The Waterloo West High School graduate lives with cerebral palsy.
Wednesday, during a celebration of the 18th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Greene spoke to several members of Congress about ability awareness. Greene focuses on what he can accomplish, not on the limitations of his disability.
An experienced public speaker, Greene said he became more nervous than usual when he addressed the influential crowd. Nonetheless, he had longed to speak in front of just that crowd since he visited Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, in Washington last year.
“It was very satisfying for us to have one of Tyler’s dreams to talk to congressmen about ability awareness come true,” said Tyler’s father, Paul Greene.
Paul and Gina Greene treated their son just like their other two children as he grew up and encouraged him to pursue any activities he liked. Tyler didn’t need much pushing. Through the years, he was active in Boy Scouts, karate, band, theater, and student senate.
From a young age, his mother said, Tyler showed a natural ability to connect with people. So he started speaking when he was around 8 years old to educators.
“He’s always had a great ability with people and a good sense of humor. That has gone a long ways for him,” Gina Greene said.
Tyler gained worldwide recognition after he created a video, ‘Tm Tyler (don’t be surprised)” for his Eagle Scout project two years ago. It has since been distributed to all 365 public school districts in Iowa, lo all 50 states and to 18 countries.
His efforts have garnered him several prestigious awards, including the 2008 “Yes, I Can” Award from the Council for Exceptional Children.
If all goes according to plan, this will not be Tyler’s last trip to Washington. This fall he will attend Hawkeye Community College to study public administration.
He hopes the degree will help make advocacy work a career that takes him to all comers of the globe.
“I’ve gone around the country to speak, but I haven’t gone out of the country,” he said. “Maybe one day I’ll go to Europe – that would be awesome.”
Contact Jens Manuel Krogstad
at (319) 291-1580 or