'People said that I couldn't. That I wouldn't. People said that there was no way. Those people were wrong. Remember this - accomplishment starts with two words: I'll try'.
Nothing in life is impossible. Koni Dole, who is playing High School football once again, less than 12 months after having half his right leg amputated, is proof enough. Koni's case is not an isolated one. The Earth over, inspirational individuals are doing incredible things and, in the process, proving people wrong.
Take, for instance, Abbey Curran. Born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects muscle co-ordination and makes such basic functions as balancing and walking a significant challenge. The doubters she encountered said she'd never be able to realize her dreams. Abbey has made such people look foolish, and then some.
You see, having won a local beauty pageant, Abbey went on to be crowned Miss Iowa, in the process becoming the first disabled contestant ever to take part in Miss USA. That was a few years ago now. In the intervening period, Abbey has made it her mission to touch the lives of those with whom she shares the most profound connection and to demonstrate the things that can be done.
Nowadays, the Miss You Can Do It pageant that Abbey established is thriving. This is an annual event for girls and young women who themselves have special needs and disabilities. Abbey knows all too well the challenges in life that such people face, not least in the perceptions that must be overcome. That she has dedicated herself to the cause - putting her inspirational attributes at the service of others - makes her an example to us all.
'[Entering a pageant] wasn't something that I'd ever planned to do, but when I was at High School, one teacher told me I couldn't do it because I had Cerebral Palsy,' she explains. 'That just set me up to prove her wrong. I always knew that I could do anything, but sometimes it takes someone to tell me that I can't do it to motivate me to do something different. I got told that some people are meant to do this and some people aren't, and that I wasn't. I had to prove those people wrong.'
There are some important points to be made here - not least that, just as we all have it in our power to make life better for those around us so too can we be the destroyers of dreams. The things that we say, whether there is an intention there or otherwise, can do untold damage. It is fortunate that Abbey has such drive and determination, or things could have turned out differently . . .
Not just for her, but for the innumerable others she has helped and inspired. Those taking part in her pageants. Those watching from afar, who recognize that perhaps - just perhaps - life doesn't have to be as bad as they'd once imagined. Those who have read about Abbey and used her to take a good look at their own lives. Those whose perceptions have been challenged by someone who has proved that we're all in this together.
'Everyone has challenges,' adds Abbey. 'You are the only one who can get through life's obstacles. Life requires a sense of humor and the challenges are just opportunities in disguise'.
That last sentiment is one that we couldn't agree with more. Here at OM®, we have some challenges for YOU: to think about how the things you say can impact on the people around you; to realize that we all have it in our power to achieve great things and to inspire others to do the same; to understand that, for all our differences, we're all the same deep down, with hopes and expectations and dreams and feelings. These challenges are inspired by Abbey, who has given us cause to think this morning . . .