Jackpot of Joy Part Two — Traveain, the Early Years

Often the quiet moments of our most desperate hours inspire impressive abilities.

Such is the case with Traveain, an irrepressible flirt born three months early against great odds.

“When I was born I was real tiny,” he said. “I’m glad I made it.”

Weighing just three pounds and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Traveain spent three months in the hospital.

“I had to be in an incubator because they had to make sure my lungs would develop,” he said. “So that’s how it started.”

“It” turned out to be a remarkable life filled with ordinary milestones achieved through extraordinary effort.

Not coincidentally the son of an educator, Traveain exceeded all of his prognoses, especially the one that said he would never speak or feed himself. He attended the Penfield Children’s Center from age one through age eight and every day, when he came home from school, his dad Keith and his mom Shara worked with him.

At the same time, beginning at age three, he attended Gaenslen elementary school. During those formative years Traveain, the focal point of an enormous circle of family and friends, never heard the word “can’t.”

By the time he reached Hamilton High School, the largest school in the Milwaukee Public School System, Traveain exuded a carefully honed cheerful confidence.

Told he would be unable to take inclusion classes because he didn’t have an aide, Traveain wheeled himself into his chosen classroom and solved the matter himself.

“I had a talk with the teacher and I explained that I can’t write and I am going to need some assistance with the notes,” Traveain said. “I’d say, ‘I’d like that girl please’ and they always said yes.”

Traveain spent his high school years choosing the cutest girl in class to take notes for him and they always agreed. He consistently came home with beautifully hand written notes so his father could help him with his homework.

Traveain graduated with national honors in 2008, having won the “Yes I Can Award.” Ironically, the little guy who was told he’d never be able to talk earned the award for his work as a DJ at WJMR radio.

Here are baby Traveain, his dad, his grandma and his brother Terrell.
Traveain’s 8th birthday party. Traveain enjoys complete recall of names and dates. I call him all the time to confirm family birthdays.
In high school, Traveain scored a DJ gig with Jammin’ 98.3. Here he is pictured with DJ Earl Stokes.
This sweet little boy blew away predictions that he would never speak or feed himself.
Traveain enjoyed exceptional teachers throughout his years at MPS. Here he is at his eighth grade graduation.
Traveain and his dad Keith, now a retired school administrator, make a dapper duo.
Traveain and my sister, Kathy, who was named Wisconsin’s Teacher of the Year in 2008, traveled to Boston to receive Traveain’s “Yes I Can” award that same year.

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