CHP Family Focus: The Dorvils

When I was young, my daddy wasn’t there, so
Mommy had to bump me up and down the stairs, so
Moved to Elizabeth after Brick City
New ‘hood but still in the nitty gritty

Had a stutter and my tongue got tied
Kids teased and I just couldn’t hide
Feelin’ sorry for myself, Mama cut me no slack
Made me stand tall see she always had my back

Cory and Chris Dorvil have been participating in CHP activities for several years, working with us to create and record hip hop jams like Unworkable and The Deal with My Wheels; songs that explore living with a disability. Chris, 34, and Cory, 30, have cerebral palsy and are wheelchair bound. They and their older sister, Tiki, were raised by their mom, Mary, in a single parent household.

The Dorvil Brothers’ first ever recording, composed in honor of Mary’s 65th birthday, was a reworking of Tupac’s Dear Mama. It’s an account of the challenges faced by the family as they moved from Newark to Elizabeth to Somerset, as the brothers underwent several major medical procedures, and as Mary navigated New Jersey’s labyrinthine social services bureaucracy. The song is a tribute to one woman’s strength and perseverance and her positive influence on her sons.

As a kid C.P. was a struggle
Meant everything I did
Well, I had to do double
Felt trapped in a cage with braces on my legs
Showed my anger with my fists and I took it out on Chris

Me and Chris playin’ Sega till late
Our Bible was the Xmen till Mommy set us straight
Good thing cause as we grew older
Challenges we faced got heavy on our shoulders

Cory is the quieter brother but his frustration at being “trapped” by cerebral palsy led to anger management issues in childhood that persisted until Mary, who was raised in a deeply religious household, encouraged him to discover his spiritual side as a way to deal with his physical challenges. Once Cory found acceptance and support in his church community he focused less on his disability, became less self-centered, and began to live a faith based life.

Chris describes how Mary helped him attend college by literally going to college with him:

Not a step would my legs let me make
Still college was a challenge that I chose to undertake
No way I could do this alone – needed help
Needed strength – couldn’t make it on my own

Angel Mom swooped in and we went to school together
By my side in every class, pushin’ me to do better
Can’t walk but I still soar high
Got wings spelled M-A-R-Y

Chris is currently working towards a master’s degree at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, which he attends on his own. With the guidance Mary provided during his undergraduate program, Chris now advocates for himself arranging transportation to and from school and securing the assistance he needs in the classroom. Cory is in a work training program and since January the guys have been living in a group home, a life change which has been challenging for the whole family. For the first time, as they establish their independence, Chris and Cory are dealing with life’s challenges without Mary always by their side. For her part, Mary worries about their welfare and is still making phone calls to state agencies and is still filling out the lengthy forms that all parents of children with a disability must fill out. It’s a hard road for the Dorvils but day by day they work to make it a little better and it all begins and ends with a mother’s love.

Like Tupac said, it’s alright if we hold on
It’s a struggle every day – gotta hold on
It’s gettin’ better every day – gotta hold on
Mom’s love makes us strong enough to hold on

Listen to the complete version of The Dorvil Brothers’ Dear Mama:


And here’s a snippet with photos: