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You don’t mind that we’ve relocated your legs, do you?

mannequin legs hanging from a beam

I’m on a Southwest Airlines flight that has just landed in Sacramento, arriving ten minutes late from Denver. I have a two-and-a-half-hour layover before my last leg home to Seattle. In usual fashion, I’m the last person departing the aircraft because I have to wait for my wheelchair to be brought up from the cargo hold.

I’m waiting…and waiting…and…hmmm….

It seems longer than usual so I ask a flight attendant about my chair. I know it wasn’t left in Denver because from my window seat on the plane I saw them load it into the cargo hold. That’s a little nerve-wracking to watch, by the way.

According to recent data reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines break an average of 25 wheelchairs or motorized scooters per day. Over 700 times per month airline employees damage or misplace someone’s personal and essential form of mobility. Do you think they would be more careful if it belonged to their mother, child, spouse, or friend?

Finally, a gate agent steps aboard the plane and says, “They’ve already taken your wheelchair to your gate. We’ll just take you in one of our chairs.” Ummm, excuse me? What gate?? Remember that part about a two-and-a-half hour layover? My wheelchair with the motor is a $15,000 ride and acts as a stand-in for my legs. I’m not at all comfortable with someone arbitrarily deciding where it goes without me. Besides, I don’t want to go the gate. I want to go the bathroom, take my dog to the relief area, and get some food. In other words, just like anyone else, I have opinions about where I go. Read more

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Have You Heard the News?

squawking chicken

Last week I heard a disturbing piece of news. A deaf couple was mocked by employees at a Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-through window for their inability to hear. At least that is what their daughter tearfully alleged in a Facebook video that went viral. The video about the KFC experience has been viewed 1.4 million times and picked up by Fox, ABC, and NBC affiliates.

The 59-year-old was with her husband when she said a female employee at the window would not help her communicate her order. “She put her hands on her mouth. I said, ‘Ma’am, sorry, I can’t hear. I need to read your lips. Could you please move it?’ She keeps standing there,” described Cole. She said she ordered again and, to her horror, the young lady walked away and began laughing with another male employee.

Read more

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07: The Lessons of Failure from Wilma Rudolph

What does it take to be a winner? Do winners ever fail? Failure and struggle are important processes to go through to fully enjoy the beauty of winning. Failure is painful and hurts in many ways; no one likes that feeling of failure, but it’s an important part of life. There is no better example of all that comes with winning and losing than the subject of our show today.

“Winning is great, sure, but if you’re really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated ALL the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” –Wilma Rudolph

Show Highlights:

  • Wilma Rudolph was born in 1940 in Tennessee into a poor black family, the 20th of her father’s 22 children
  • A premature birthweight of only 4.5 lbs. and a childhood filled with illness preceded a bout with polio that took the use of Wilma’s left leg
  • Leg braces, treatments, massages, and help from her large family were Wilma’s life until she pulled the braces off at age 9 and started walking
  • Soon she was playing basketball, running, jumping, and challenging her brothers in sports
  • At age 14, she was noticed by a college track coach, so she started running, soon qualifying for the Olympics in Melbourne in 1956 at age 16
  • After winning a bronze medal, she went back to college in TN, but fought repeated illnesses because of her drive to always win
  • In 1960, she was the first American woman to win 3 gold medals in a single Olympics in Rome, as she tied and set new world and Olympic records
  • She was an instant celebrity in Europe and America, but was intent on making change 
  • She refused to attend a ticker-tape parade in her honor in TN because it was to be segregated, as everything was in the South in the 1960’s
  • She overcame incredible odds and personal failures, and soon retired from amateur athletics and became a teacher, coach, and mother of four
  • She wrote an autobiography and allowed a movie to be made of her life
  • Her greatest accomplishment was the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, a non-profit sports organization
  • Wilma died of brain cancer at age 54 in Nashville in 1994

Resources:

  1. Amazing Women in History 
  2. Notable Biographies
  3. ESPN 
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Empathy by Design

“I think like a designer,” I commented to a friend recently. “No,” she answered, “you ARE a designer. “ Hmmm….come to think of it…..

For the last two weeks I’ve obsessed over tiny details of the plans for our new house. A tape measure, 1/4” scale ruler, sharp pencil and an eraser have been my best friends. I didn’t create the house plan, but I’m making it work for our family and my accessibility needs because I use a cane, walker or wheelchair at any given time. We love our current custom house, but the lack of universal design creates a lot of challenges.  Read more

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The most raw, honest and profound interview.

Friends, this is the most raw, honest and profound interview I’ve ever given.

Please listen and allow it to change how you connect with people everywhere.

Read more

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The Price is Right

What is your life worth?

To the medical community the price for my life last year was $2.3 million. The cash register continues to ring regularly.

Money isn’t all that has been paid. The price for my LIFE was a deeply costly sacrifice on many fronts….

  • Over $54,000 from 440 donors.
  • My once strong and capable body.
  • My formerly easily agile mind.
  • A successful and much loved career.
  • A house that I designed and now can’t live in longterm.
  • Friendships that were damaged, destroyed or at minimum affected.
  • My family’s plans both financially and experientially.
  • Our sense of security.
  • My dignity
  • My dreams

It’s a sobering, even depressing list that I wrote during my lowest point emotionally. It helped me draw one critical conclusion. Many people have sacrificed greatly and paid a heavy price. For what? ME. How can I not also see a spiritual parallel? A tremendous price has been paid to save ME.

Now I can shrivel up in a corner, feeing sorry for myself. Or I can boldly embrace that I am worthy of such a steep price and then ACT LIKE IT. Only then can I turn the enormous investment into compounded value for others.

My ‘problems’ aren’t worse than yours. Just more dramatic. Make your own list. What sacrifices have you and others made so that you can contribute to the world? That is really what it’s about. You and I have been helped along so that we can CONTRIBUTE. The world needs what only you can uniquely bring and you can be sure a price has been paid. Know that and ACT LIKE IT. No matter how steep the cost, your contribution ensures the price is right.