Alternate titles for this post were:
- Skys the Limbit (thanks Paula)
- Ability, Not Disibility (thanks Kate)
No Five for Friday from me today. I was busy with my conference, my blog was down, and blah-blah-blah.
I did watch an incredible speaker today who just blew my mind and brought tears to my eyes. So, I thought I would share his inspiration with you.
I got to the Grand Ballroom to pass out surveys around 7am, this morning (wearing my classy workout outfit) and saw a guy on the stage. He was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and some work boots pacing around. He was practicing his speech, checking the microphone, and having problems with his video playing. At first I thought nothing of it. There were a lot of speakers this week and they all started to blend together. Then I watched some of his video and I realized he wasn’t just some ordinary speaker. He was extraordinary.
Luckily, I was able to watch some of his presentation and let me tell you – Dana Bowman is amazing.
Some of you may have heard of him. He was Special Forces Soldier in the U.S. Army and part of the Golden Knights — an elite parachuting team. In 1994, during a routine exercise, he slammed into his partner (who was also his mentor and like family) mid-air (they actually slammed into each other – nobody was found at fault). Their combined force at impact was approx 300 mph. The partner, Sgt. Jose Aguillon, died instantly. Dana, on the other hand, lived. EXCEPT the partner had sliced off his legs WITH HIS ARMS. One leg was gone above the knee and the other below the knee. As they drifted to the ground (his partner’s chute released automatically, his chute miraculously opened on impact) nobody realize how much damage had been done.
Dana showed us the (amatuer) video that was shot during the my training event (it’s in the video clip below) and it BLEW MY MIND. Seriously, I think my brain went “KA-POW” while I was standing there and watching this event. I’m pretty sure there was not a dry eye in the room when described his loss. Not just of his legs – but also his livelihood, his family (his wife left him), his lifelong ambitions, and his best friend.
But, Dana did not take his survival for granted – and here’s the REALLY amazing part… 9 months after the accident (NINE MONTHS!) Dana RE-ENLISTED and did so by JUMPING OUT OF A PLANE with his Commander (he did his first jump 5 months after his accident!). At this point of the presentation part of me thought – well, obviously he’s crazy (and part of me still thinks that) but the other part? Wow. That man has a passion and he is going to make the MOST of his life. He rejoined his team and became the first double amputee in the U.S. military.
Dana retired from the military and 1996 and went on to get his college degree — in commerical aviation. He is now a certified helicopter instructor!!
Dana’s message is clear. He honestly doesn’t even need to speak – his message is THAT POWERFUL. His motto is “It’s not the disability…it’s the ability” and if that doesn’t get you going, I might need to check your pulse.
I’ve been thinking about his presentation all day. What to say about it and how to describe how it made me feel. And ultimately it made me feel like whiner. I have both of my legs and he’s doing things I would never do. He told people they were wrong and then showed them. He proved that life is worth living. No matter the disability. No matter the roadblocks and obstacles. That proving people wrong and not wallowing in self-pity is attainable. That you may never forget, but you can turn your mistakes and regrets into something wonderful and a life worth living.
I’m going to try my hardest to think like Dana does. To quit complaining when I have to get out of bed to workout or if I have a late night at work. To stop when my kids are off the wall. To stop bitching about the heat and humidity. To stop whining about the circumstances at hand. I HAVE my legs. I have full control of my entire body. I have family, friends, and these guys:
I have the ability.
This marathon thing is going to ROCK! Thanks Dana for the inspiration.
What inspires you? What obstacles (great OR small) have you overcome to get where you are today?