Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pennsylvania man with CP, known as DJ Wheelz, turns his passion into a music career

From Public Opinion in Pa.:

NEWVILLE, Pa. -- Ever since he was in middle school, Dillon Strouse of Newville wanted to be a disc jockey.

At 23 years old, Strouse now has his own DJ business, Strouse Entertainment.

Few 23-year-olds have their own business, but what makes this entrepreneur more incredible is that he's done it all with cerebral palsy.

Strouse, also known by his stage name, "DJ Wheelz" -- a reference to his wheelchair -- hopes he can be an inspiration to others.

After graduating from school, he knew he wanted to work, but at first he wasn't sure what to do.

And then it occurred to him: Turn his passion for music into a career.

"Maybe a year ago, I was sitting here thinking, 'What can I do with my life? On my way home from a friend's house I was listening to satellite radio, and I took that as a hint from God that's what I'm supposed to do," Strouse said.

Growing up, Strouse had a disco ball in his room and he used to collect lights with the dream of one day being a DJ. He also had a tape recorder he would use to record music.

Strouse has always loved listening to all genres of music -- everything from rap to jazz and classical.

His parents, family and friends have all been supportive of the new venture.

"He's a people-person and he loves music, so this works out pretty well for him," said his father, Butch.

Dillon Strouse was further encouraged by a Chris Andrews of Big Daddy Productions, a DJ he met at a trade expo in Atlantic City.

"He's been a real motivator for me," Strouse said. "He flies all over the world. If I could reach out more, that would be my dream."

Strouse is available to work events from backyard barbecues and sweet 16 birthday parties to school dances and large corporate events. He's done some school dances and large corporate events in the few months he's been in business and has more events already booked.

On the day of the event, his friends help him set up the equipment. Then he runs the show with his mixer and computer, which is equipped with a mouse that he can move using his chin.

He said it hasn't always been easy, but he's stuck with it.

"I was accepted here and I was never worried. But in the business world, some people look at my chair and think that I can't do anything," he said. "That's not the case."

He hopes to eventually work with some big-name musicians -- he's already met a few, including Lee Brice and Willie Nelson.

But his ultimate goal is simply to be an inspiration to others.

He said he wouldn't mind being on radio or TV just to explain a little bit about his life and his journey to this point.

"My goal is to show people that if I can do it, anyone can do it. I want to be an inspiration to others."

He's also giving back. Ten percent of profits over the next few months will be donated to multiple sclerosis organizations.