Ability

By Scott Westerman
At 29 years old, Aaron Scheidies, is world champion. This MSU alumnus, has competed in more than 150 triathlons and was recently nominated for an ESPN ESPY.

He also happens to be visually impaired.

One of the best radio announcers I ever met was Frank Bonfiglio. Radio done right is all about nuance. The inflection of the DJ’s voice and the subtlety of the execution of each formatic element is a lost art in this day of voice tracking and automation. Frank was a virtuoso. He was also visually impaired.

I learned recently that seven percent of college students face each day with clinical depression. There are dozens of world changers who live full and rewarding lives even with this challenge. We may not know who they all are, but we’re impacted by what they all do.

Steven Hawking, Franklin Roosevelt, Helen Keller.. These are the famous names that we know. They are the tip of an iceberg. Below the surface is a huge contingent of inspiring individuals who refuse to let anyone tell them what they can’t do.

I’m continually fascinated at the power of the human spirit. We all come into this world with a toolbox and an opportunity to make our life and legacy a meditation on building a better world. Some of us have more tools than others. And some of us who don’t have the same tools invent creative ways to add our artistry to the tapestry of humanity anyway.

Some of the most amazing people I’ve met are individuals that others would call “disabled”. They have found ways over, under, around and through their challenges to accomplish things that “normal” people only dream of.

I’ve come to believe that our limitations are, in truth, self defined. Whether they are physical, mental, emotional or experiential, we can either let them smother us, or use them as the fuel that fires our determination.

What so-called disabilities are standing between you and your dreams? All human accomplishment is ultimately based on two fundamental principals. If you think you can’t you won’t. If you strive to achieve, you will.

People like Aaron and Frank remind me why I love doing what I do, They are role models who remind us that it’s possible to reach beyond our self applied limitations, and create our own small works of art on that universal canvas where we all make our mark.