Christian Timm is enjoying a fall morning on his patio before watching videos on YouTube and then starting his daily distance learning classes through Pathways Adult Learning Center, which works with individuals with intellectual disabilities.
From 2-6 p.m. every weekday, a Pathways staff member works with Timm on in-home training like making meals and pouring his own drinks to aid his transition into becoming an independent adult.
Timm, 20, has big aspirations. His goal is to become a world-famous DJ. He already has his stage name: DJ Zipline, which originated from the time in sixth grade when he awed his Jenks classmates during a field trip by leaving his wheelchair on the ground as he ziplined across a ropes course. He was so happy about the moment, it became his online moniker for his email address and Instagram account.
“I like EDM (electronic dance music) and the bass in the music,” says Timm, who also loves to sing. His favorite songs are “Dancing Queen” and “Stand By Me.” He also starts each day by singing worship songs.
Timm was born with spina bifida and underwent 24 surgeries, including spinal fusion surgery while in middle school. He also was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
He doesn’t let those setbacks slow him down. Timm showcases his talents while sitting on the porch by singing the hit song by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay, “Something Just Like This.” He saw The Chainsmokers in concert, and it inspired him to someday be the one on stage entertaining fans.
Though his zipline ride was his first act to get cheers from a crowd, his first musical performance in front of an audience came during a talent show his freshman year at Jenks High School when he sang “Shut up and Dance” and received a loud ovation.
“He went out on the stage and then he pulled out these moves I didn’t know he had,” says Timm’s mom, Cheryl Srader. “It was his first big public performance. Once he got on stage he was sold, and he has been performing ever since.”
“I dropped the mic at the end,” adds Timm as he pumps his fist in excitement. He graduated from Jenks in 2019 and then chose Pathways to continue his education.
About a year ago, Timm discovered Run D.M.C. and their Adidas white clam shell shoes. He instantly needed his own pair of the famous sneakers for his wardrobe. He also has a black pair and sometimes switches them out during the day. His mom, stepdad and sister also have matching pairs.
Unlike the late DJ Jam Master Jay of Run D.M.C. fame, Timm says he’s not interested in the traditional DJ method of using turntables. He’s currently saving up money for the computer software to make his own electronic music.
When he’s not watching music videos or doing schoolwork, Timm often devotes time to a lifelong passion of researching Chuck E. Cheese and watching restaurant tour videos on YouTube. He can name the company’s executives and knows the location of every franchise in America. Show him a picture of an interior of one of their restaurants, and he can tell you which one it is. Every family vacation includes a visit to a Chuck E. Cheese, and until recently he visited the Tulsa location every Wednesday.
If all those talents weren’t enough, Timm also is an Oklahoma Special Olympics gold medalist in bowling and a silver medalist in bocce.
He also enjoys reading the “Magic Treehouse” book series and beating his family at Mario Kart on the Nintendo Wii. He’s almost always Mario, but sometimes he chooses Luigi. Before the pandemic he spent time volunteering at Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, singing for people at senior living centers and attending church at Kirk of the Hills.
He checks the time, then says it’s time to go inside. Timm lives by a strict schedule. He’s up by 6:30 a.m., and then does all his daily routines before going to bed at 9:30 p.m. The next day it’s the same, starting with praise and worship.
Timm rolls up to his living room computer desk that looks out at the backyard and starts scrolling through YouTube before class begins.