I absolutely loved the Paralympics during London 2012. Those athletes showed what can be achieved despite sometimes severe disabilities, and were fantastic examples of strength of mind and the ability of the human spirit to shine through in the face of adversity. We could all learn something from their determination not to let a disability be the end of their lives or to stop them achieving great things.
I was lucky enough to hear the captain of the British wheelchair rugby team, Steve Brown, speak at my daughter’s GCSE certificate presentation last night. Here was a man who had it all, a lovely girlfriend, good health and a fabulous career in the South of France, which ended in an instant when he fell from a balcony and broke his neck in 2005. The fall left him completely paralysed from his chest down and with only partial control of his arms and hands. He had always loved sport and it turned out to be his salvation when he was introduced to wheelchair rugby whilst still recuperating from his injuries in Stoke Mandeville hospital. He told us how he was afraid to even leave the hospital in his wheelchair when his family first suggested he go and watch it – he didn’t want people to see him and feel sorry for him. When he finally plucked up the courage he didn’t see people feeling sorry for themselves because of their disabilities; they weren’t beaten by their misfortune. Instead they were fast and furious, brave and determined. (If you have never seen a game, check it out on You Tube – it is absolutely terrifying!) He began to play and found he was rather good at it. He trained obsessively and worked his way into the GB team as captain, ready for London 2012. As well as playing wheelchair rugby he commentates for Sky Sports and is a motivational speaker.
It was really inspiring to hear his story. I hope the pupils were inspired as well. Life doesn’t always work out the way we would like it to but we can all make the best of what we have, count our blessings and accept our misfortunes.
You can read more about Steve on his website: http://www.stevebrowngb.com/
It reminded me of the bit of paper I have blue tacked to my PC at work, and to look at it and reflect on it a bit more often: