The Shepherd Center was putting on a camp for people that were mostly wheelchair bound, with a few that had limited mobility with the help of a prosthetic. The campers were put up for 3 days, and were able to attend seminars and "workshops' specific to their interests'- from scuba diving and wheelchair basketball, to track running and swimming, among many others.
While watching Mike work with her, I met the sweetest 18 year old boy who was paralyzed from the waist down due being shot by a stray bullet in his neighborhood. He told me that he was just playing in the front yard with his sisters, when he got shot in the chest. His family had to move to a new home, one without stairs, and in a split second his entire future changed. Before the shooting, he was the star football and baseball player at his high school, and was hoping to go to college on a sports scholarship.
My heart literally broke as he was telling me his story, but his spirit was unaltered. He was as happy as he could be, and emphatic that nothing was going to slow him down...certainly not a wheelchair. He said he obviously wasn't going to play "normal" football or baseball, but he was going to go to college, get his degree, was already playing on a wheelchair basketball team, and was looking to get involved in more wheelchair sports. He was happy, and talking about being paralyzed the same way I would talk about having a stubbed toe-it was clear that nothing was going to hold this kid back in his life. He believed it, and in just a short time, I believed in him. It was freezing cold out, and as I had 5 layers on and was still shivering, he had shorts on and a long sleeve T-shirt. When we finished talking, I said "you are going to get sick! Your legs must be freezing in those shorts!" and he very politely, but with a slight grin, replied "Ma'am, I can't feel my legs." Talk about feeling like you just put your foot in your mouth.
We were teaching a woman how to simply get up and stand from her wheelchair. Sounds so easy, and yet, that is all this boy dreamed of being able to do,. Unfortunately, unless science has a tremendous breakthrough, he probably will never be able to do the tasks that the campers in our clinic were able to do. Then I thought of the 18 year old boy out on the track, with the gregarious personality, bursting with determination and pride. I have no doubt that nothing was going to slow that boy down. I thought about the woman who didn't even want to join our clinic, but by the end was going up and down the track, with confidence. It's such a short, simple sentence, but has so much meaning..."The Triumph of the Human Spirit". The triumph of the human spirit picks people up when the world has knocked them down. It tells you to get up and try again, when you think you can't. It pushes you to achieve the goal that everyone told you was impossible, or just a dream. Its what gives you determination and drive, and forces you to be the absolute best that you can possibly be. The triumph of the human spirit is what tells you not to take no for an answer, to keep pushing for something better, and not to let anything, or anyone stop you from achieving everything you want in your life, no matter what your circumstances.
The "Triumph of the Human Spirit" reminds me of some quotes that I love:
"We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will." — Chuck Palahniuk
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."-- Maya Angelou
"Have the courage to be the person you know you are.” ~ Jeffrey Benjamin
"Once you choose hope, anything’s possible." Christopher Reeve
“Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes