I went from a healthy 11-year-old kid playing sports, hanging out with friends and loving life, to spending 3 months near death in a coma from Bacterial Meningitis, only to wake up totally blind, hearing impaired, and too weak to even sit up. My life has been a roller coaster to say the least. Some might feel pity for me or see me only as a disabled person, but my journey has been one of overcoming, learning, perseverance, and triumph. It’s not an easy road but it’s the road paved for me, and I have decided to travel its bumps and turns with a sense of purpose and excitement.
Throughout the years since that fateful time when I fell ill in 1998, I have met so many incredible people who have amazing stories of overcoming tremendous challenges and finding joy and success. The fact is that each of you has an amazing unique story of your own that would no doubt inspire and encourage.
One of my mentors and a fellow speaker, John O’ Leary, lives a story of overcoming and beating tremendous odds. John’s story illustrates the way in which a typical 9-year-old kid who makes a terrible choice with a can of gas burning 100 percent of his body, comes back to not only live, but to inspire others to live their own radically inspired lives.
I had the great privilege of meeting and hearing John a couple of years ago when he was speaking locally. Seeing his presence up on stage and watching him turn his traumatic events into something beautiful to help others, gave me confidence and inspired me to know that my journey could be one meant to also guide others to healing, understanding, and joy in life. Over the years, John has become one of the people I aspire to emulate in my speaking and a person I can always reference for inspiration.
My friends, you don’t need to be burned over 100% of your body or have a life-threatening illness to live a radical inspired and incredible life. Each of you has something special and great within you. We all face obstacles and challenges that life throws our way. Let’s choose to make the best of those challenges and always remember that the best is yet to come!