Student with cerebral palsy hopes to encourage others through radio, positive outlook

Nov. 2, 2015

Rachel Librach
rlibrach@uccs.edu

One of Andy Hilton’s favorite places to be is Hard Rock Café. This makes sense, considering he has visited 18 different versions of the restaurant across the U.S.

Hilton, a 31-year-old junior communication major, was born with cerebral palsy. This can affect groups of muscles resulting in movement disorders and complications in motor skills.

Hilton said he sometimes struggles with his condition.

“I have learned that I have to plan ahead for even the simplest of things because they take me longer if not twice as long as most people. My overall way of living is very different because I can get tired extremely easily,” Hilton said.

“Sometimes I feel like there is a sense of loneliness that can come with having a disability.”

Hilton collects Hard Rock T-shirts and pins, but this restaurant represents something more to him than an eatery.

“If you were a disabled customer you were seen as not someone to be treated inappropriately. That was unusual for a restaurant of that stature and they didn’t hinder to me, they didn’t have anything bad to say when I walked in the door,” Hilton explained.

“It was a place that for two hours, I wasn’t bullied or made fun of, and they really used to take care of me, and it was a really enjoyable
experience.”

Hilton expressed that people need to use the time they have in college to focus on their grades, discovering new experiences and exploring new possibilities. He believes that if more people realized this, they would see how fortunate they are.

“I went to UCCS because I wanted to open my mind up to better academics and a better understanding of the way the world works. You should realize that you need to strive to be not only good academically, but be open to other people who are different because that could be you one day in your life,” he said.

Hilton said his goal is to do his best to inspire others.

One way Hilton hopes to inspire and entertain others is through the radio. He said since he was 12 years old, he dreamed of having his own radio show.

At 18, Hilton received a few opportunities to be on the radio.

He believes that his passion for radio will change how people view modern commentators and will draw closer relationships between listeners and hosts.

“Even though the radio business has become so cutthroat and distant, I want to fight for radio to return to being personable and on a community level again,” Hilton said.

He said he is a clean version of radio host Howard Stern.

“I don’t cuss or do all the sexual things he says, but I don’t mind speaking my mind.”

That goal, to inspire others, applies beyond radio as well.

“Don’t worry about the way that you are perceived, use that as a positive and show people that despite the way they perceive you, you are going to make it no matter what,” said Hilton.

“I have been through bad times, but I have learned to accept who I am. Your perception is your reality. I want to take my disability and do something great with it. I’m certain it’s only going to get better.”