I’m an unusual man. I was born with arguably the worst case of congenital bilateral club feet in the US. I was ranked in the top 2% severity in the world, so I was already playing against a stacked deck. I’ve spent most of my life beating the odds. Mom was told that I’d never walk; I’d “live a life and eventual death sentence in a wheelchair.” I not only learned to walk, but as Mom puts it, I “danced my way across Europe.” At age 3, I was singing onstage with my mother (and getting paid)! I grew up to become a singer/songwriter/musician, as well as an entertainer, front man, wrestling manager and a father to a future astrophysicist (was not supposed to be able to father children). True story!
On 4/28/22 at age 46, I lost 25% of my left leg, due to bone infection. I have dealt with surgeries many times in my life, but this has raised the magnitude to a new level. I have tried to live by the principles of perseverance, humility, patience, and compassion. This experience reminds me of all of those! Perhaps being born how I had prepared me for this a little better than most.
I want to share this experience with you: In 4th Grade, we had Field Day at the end of the year. I participated in two races- the shortest and longest. The first race, I finished last, a few seconds behind the next slowest. The second race started fast; the boys finished by the time I got 1/4 way around the track. The girls passed me at the halfway point. It would have been so easy for me to give up and quit…but something told me to finish the race.
The stands went quiet as I continued my slow jog around the track. At the 3/4 point, my gym coach came to pace me and encourage me. The stands erupted again as I finally crossed the finish line. I learned an incredibly significant maxim that day: Finish the race, even if you are dead last. I have applied this maxim enjoy life as much as I can. I have also tried to pass this on to my daughter and others. I now encourage you with that same maxim- finish the race.
I am learning that my dreams do not have to die off because of a loss of limb. I have always wanted to see people succeed in their dreams, regardless of circumstance or challenge. The only thing that can prevent your dreams from being accomplished is your individual mindset. The loss of a limb may alter your ability, but you can adapt to the situation and rise above it. I promise that if a Southern Midnight Rocker like me can do it, YOU can do it! #WeTHRIVE
“Physically challenged doesn’t mean boundary confined!” -Wayne Hamilton