- Growing up in a troubled neighborhood in Harrisburg, PA, Gilliam’s mother, Vene Shifflett, enrolled second-grade Garry into Milton Hershey School, a private, cost-free boarding school. Shifflett, along with Garry’s brother, Victor, moved to Chambersburg, PA, as Victor was struggling with a combination of cerebral palsy and four kinds of congenital heart defects in an attempt to seek better care. Gilliam struggled to fit in with host families as he missed everything he knew. For three years, he found the right match as he lived with wrestling coach and gym teacher, Jimmy Taylor, and his wife and their young son and daughter whom he played with, cooked meals for and helped clean the house with.
- Gilliam often visits Milton Hershey School, speaking to students about perseverance through adversity and sharing the story of his upbringing. Part of his message is to, “Do your work. Be respectful to your elders and classmates.”
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