“I’m originally from South Africa. A few years ago, when I was working on my undergrad, I had a chance to mentor some high school students. I was immediately hooked and realized that I wanted to dedicate my life to trying to make a difference in the lives of others. I’m now working on my doctorate in clinical psychology.”
“10 years ago while I was living back East, I was managing a retirement home. We were having trouble with one of the roof top air conditioning units so I climbed up on the roof to take a look. At the time I weighed about 300 pounds. Somehow I lost my balance and fell. I landed on my feet but immediately felt a tingling in my legs. I thought that it had something to do with my weight so I didn’t have it checked out by a doctor. Over the next week it continued to get worse. When I finally went in and got it checked, it was to late. I had done irreparable damage to my spine.”
“People treat me differently. They treat me like I can’t take care of myself. The fact is everyone has their own unique challenges. I decided a long time ago that I was not going to allow this to stop me from living a full life. When I chose to deal with my realty, it allowed me to focus on the future. Because of that, I live a much richer life now then I did before my accident. I wouldn’t change a thing. This has taught me to not take things for granted and to let go of all of my pride and just focus on being happy in the moment. I’m truly happier now than I was before the accident.”
“I have an 18 year old daughter. I don’t want her to see me as a victim. I want her to see me as just a normal person. I hope that someday that example will help her in a time when she needs to be tough.”
“At the age of 6 I was diagnosed with bone cancer. After trying to find a donor and being unsuccessful, the decision was made that I would lose my leg. My parents never allowed me to feel sorry for myself. They always encouraged me and told me that the only thing that would hold me back was me. I’ve learned to appreciate what I have and to not take things for granted. I’ve been a sponsored rock climber and recently took up jogging”.
“I met my husband in high school. He designed my prosthetic leg, and the company he works for manufactured it for me. You can say I’m a lucky lady”.
“Seven weeks before my wife was supposed to give birth, Tommy stopped moving. We rushed to the hospital hoping for the best. The doctors were forced to do a C section. Tommy survived but his life’s struggle was only beginning. He has cerebral palsy and he is the most caring, loving person I have ever known. He has taught me so much. Before he was born I was a self-absorbed, selfish jerk. He has been a blessing in my life everyday since”.
“He also has autism, is almost entirely blind, confined to this wheelchair and wakes up every morning smiling. He is my beautiful Tommy Boy”.
“He loves to feel the sun on his face so we take every chance we get to come to the park”.
“I just want her to have a chance to grow up in a world that hasn’t been destroyed by those that have come before her.”
“I was born in a nominally active catholic family. Religion was something that we participated in only on holidays and family events. After I started high school, I started experimenting with a lot things that I shouldn’t have. I quickly realized how unhappy I was and I decided to start to learn who God was. I started reading the Bible and trying to connect with my Catholic roots but I didn’t feel the connection that I was hoping for”.
“After graduating from high school I started studying at the university. I was praying for a sign and asking for guidance. As I walked outside I heard someone say “Krishna” which means supreme deity. Within a matter of 30 minutes I saw 2 different practicing hare krishna members. Until that day I had never seen one. I took this as a sign and started to study the religion and immediately found that its philosophies match what I had felt religion should consist of. Hare Krishna is about love, mutual respect and devoting my life to becoming like Krishna. I’ve learned that we are all “atoms of consciousness.” Our souls long to connect to something that is higher than ourselves. Somewhere along the way many people become lost and try to fill that void with things that truly have no meaning; cars, titles, homes, money and physical appearance. Our bodies are like pieces of clay. Our actions are shaped by our beliefs, our bodies are just the vessels for our souls”.
“I got my degree in environmental engineering. I graduated at the top of my class with honors. After I converted my dad stopped speaking to me. He was disappointed and thought I was throwing my life away. When he came to my graduation, he hugged me and told me how proud he was of me and that he knew that I had made the right decision for myself. My mom, after seeing the change in me, decided to go back to college and get her masters degree in theology”.
“”I’m not handicapped, I’m just different. Many people with the same challenges I have let that challenge define their lives. My mom always told me that everybody is unique and different, my difference is just physically noticeable. I can do anything that anybody else can do, I just have to do it a little differently”.
“I think the key to being happy is to be grateful. I choose to be grateful and happy every morning I wake up. Today is a new day, a new adventure, a new chance to make something of myself”.
“I absolutely love what I do. I’m a salesperson at the Microsoft store. I get to meet and help new people everyday. I also help run my mom and dad’s food truck. We owned a small restaurant in Iowa so it’s what we know. After we moved here from Las Vegas, we started talking about what we could do as a family and decided that a food truck was our best option”.
“My tattoo is from a Japanese anime called “Fooly Cooly”. It just reminds me that never to assume anything and that I have to have faith in something greater than myself”.