Thursday, October 31, 2013

Overcoming Obstacles: Talk at Casio G-Shock Store

I had a great time last night at the Casio G-Shock Store in NYC!  Thanks to the many friends and strangers who came out to hear me talk and to Casio for hosting the event.  

My talk was about being adventurous and overcoming obstacles.  I shared lessons learned from the family adventures I’ve taken with my kids in Japan, Iceland and the U.S., like:

-       A kid can do a whole lot more than most adults think.
-       The more time children spend in nature, the more connected they feel to the world around them.
-       The more time children spend in nature, the more they want to protect the wilderness that remains.

I also shared stories about several people who inspire me:
-       Theresa Khayyam, who went blind two years ago at age 45 from a viral infection.  What did she do after going blind?  She decided to become a runner!  She trains with the Achilles International chapter in Nashville, TN.  My sister Becky will guide her in this weekend’s NYC Marathon, Theresa’s first.

-       Charlie Plaskon.  Blind since childhood, he became a marathoner and Ironman triathlete in his 60’s.  I guided him in the NYC Ironman last year when he was 69 years old and have given presentations at schools with him.  My favorite quote of Charlie’s: “No one is interested in your best excuse.  Just find a way.”

-       Evan Ruggiero, who started dancing at age 5.  At age 19, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer).  After a series of chemo treatments, his right leg was amputated.  His dancing career was over, right?  Nope.  Two days after receiving a peg leg, he was turning it into a creative part of his tap dance repertoire.  My 12-year-old son Sho took a tap class with Evan and talked last night about how inspiring it was to learn from him.

-       Dan Berlin, who went blind with macular degeneration in his 30’s.  Did he sit around feeling sorry for himself?  Nope.  He decided to become an endurance athlete.  I guided Dan in the 2011 NYC Marathon, 2012 Colorado Marathon and, last month, the Toughman Half Ironman (swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, run 13.1 miles).  Next year, we plan to run “rim to rim to rim” across the Grand Canyon and back in one day.  That’s around 46 miles and about 23,000 feet of elevation change.  Can a blind guy really do that?  All the naysayers will tell you we’re nuts for trying.  But naysayers told me that an 8-year-old couldn’t cycle the length of Japan (they were wrong), a 6-year-old was too young to pedal over the Rockies (they were wrong), and that a 69-year-old blind man shouldn’t try to do an Ironman (they were wrong).

It turns out that a horrible experience like going blind or losing a leg can also be the catalyst for new areas of growth. 

So, be adventurous.  Take a hard look at the limits you put on yourself and your children.  I suspect that most of those limits are just in your head.

Outside the Casio G-Shock store before the talk (notice the poster)

With Sho and Saya

Casio's Mike Princiotto introducing me

Sho (age 12) talking about running a 1/2 marathon

Saya added her energy to the talk!

The naysayers may so no, but I think he can

1 comment:

  1. Your stories are so inspiring - thank you! I always look forward to reading your blog. - Pam Ganger