Friday, November 5, 2010

Source of Inspiration: People Involved With Disabled Sports

When seing this sign in the the front window of the car - what are your thoughts?

  • Are you wondering how severe the disability of the car driver is?
  • Do you imagine, what kind of dissease/accident/disability the driver might suffer from?
  • Does it make you think of a friend/relative that is disabled?
  • Does it ever occur to you, that the driver is actually deeply involved with sports for the disabled?

I can relate to the first three - I was confined to a wheel chair at the time, when the doctors diagnosed me with MS. A lot of people around me (and actually also myself to a certain point) did not believe, that I would ever regain my ability to walk normal again - let alone run. The lady in the hospital bed next to me is a huge inspiration: she is confined to a wheel chair for the rest of her life, and she is living her life to the fullest extend...

Her energy level seems so much higher than people without disabilities and it soon became obvious that I could learn a lot from her. When she heard, that I have run several half marathons, she just blurted out "Get yourself a race-wheel chair and start doing wheel chair racing!".... I started laughing for the first time after the grim words from the doctors. Eventually after 4 months of training, I was able to walk/run without any aid. 

Even though she said that to me, it never occured to me that the driver of a car could be into sports for disabled (some call it handicap sports)......

Another lady just made me think about it. I talk to her everyday on the phone when working, and the other day was the first time I met her face to face. She is dependant on crutches and in some occations a wheel chair - and she has participated in several international competitions including even the paralympics. She has a full time job and in her spare time, every hour is spent with her horse and family - WOW!!

We never knew, that we have something in common - besides being in the same business - an illness that can result in severe disability... She was apparently very happy about my way of initiating a conversation at the meeting with blurting out "Were you not able to stand on your two feet, so you ended up falling?" My colleagues were shocked and one said to me, that I was being rude. But it was obvious, that it was so much more than an accident, that caused the need for crutches (you could tell by the way she moved, that this was no new injury after an accident). Her laughter said everything about her reaction and she said "No somebody thought it was fun to connect my legs the wrong way" - then my colleagues went so quiet for a few minutes when the both of us laughed hard.

Later she asked me, if I know anybody else, that is disabled? She is used to people just staring at her, as if she was from another planet, and my bluntness really surprised her and made her happy at the same time. When I told her, that I suffer from MS and had trained myself out of a wheel chair, we seemed to connect on a higher level with an unspoken mutual understanding: both of us aware how lucky we are to be able to have a full time job and live as normal a life as possible. None of our colleagues truly understand what happened, but they realised that we connected at a mutual level.

I just passed a car with the disability-sign and immediately started wondering, which type of sports the driver could be into.... Then I started thinking about which sports, that could be "my thing" if I ever end up in a wheel chair - and my initial thought still makes me laugh: bowling. 

Longer post, than I expected to write, but her ability to embrace a sport (despite being diabled) is truly inspiring....

1 comment:

daveinsd said...

Great post!!! Sports participation makes a huge difference in the lives of disabled people. Harris Interactive did the independent research to prove it!

Disabled Sports USA is a nonprofit that provides sports opportunities (events, coaching, equipment, etc) to thousands of severely disabled people every year.