You could say that Dominick Trevethan is a big man on campus these days at UCLA.
The second-quarter freshman makes it very clear: he doesn’t stand tall and he rolls with the punches. And usually, with an infectious smile.
“I’ve always tried to be very motivated in whatever I do,” Trevethan told NewsChannel 3. “I try not to let the disability hold me down.”
We caught up with the 18-year-old during winter break at his home with his grandparents in Solvang.
Many Santa Barbara County residents might recognize the teen from his days as a pirate, at Santa Ynez High School. And, many will recall the astonishingly powerful speech he gave at graduation at the end of 2016.
Trevethan reads a few paragraphs of the speech to our crew.
“When I was 1-year-old, my neurologist told my family, ‘He will never be able to walk. By the time he turns 10, he will not be able to feed himself and will have trouble speaking.'”
He points out that he feeds himself breakfast, lunch and dinner and obviously, has no problem speaking.
Trevethan has defied the odds since birth, living with spinal muscular atrophy or SMA, a progressive disease. Despite needing care 24/7, he is taking a full load in his second quarter as a Bruin. A trio of nurses rotate and take turns as his dorm-mate. Trevethan said psychology will be his major and he’s hoping, one day, to work with children.
“He’s always positive about what’s going to happen and we’re always hoping that something wonderful will happen some day,” said Joe Shelton, Trevethan’s grandfather.
The real hope is, that day may will soon.
“There’s actually just been an FDA approval of a possible cure,” Trevethan said. “Not a for-sure cure but at least stops the progression of the disease.”
Trevethan said doctors are encouraged by a newly discovered drug that has the potential to wake the dormant gene linked to his condition.
In the meantime, Trevethan is a moving inspiration on the campus of UCLA — competing with some of the sharpest minds in the world — and is proving that neurologist, who first laid eyes on him 18 years ago, wrong.
Trevethan looks down and reads us the last line of that inspirational graduation speech.
“Look the fear of the unknown and change right in the eye and use your own strength of character to forge your own path.”