Collin Langston was born with a congenital disorder, arthrogryposis, causing all his joints to contract. As a result, he’s had to rely on a wheelchair to function. But upon entering high school in Springston, Missouri, he vowed to walk the stage when he received his diploma four years later at graduation ceremonies. It was an unimaginable goal since he’d never put his feet flat on the ground or put any weight on his legs his entire life.
But with the advent of a new surgery he could finally have the opportunity to stand and walk short distances. First they would break each leg, then shorten the femurs by three inches, pin them to heal and implant “super knees.”
He learned of this life-altering surgery as a freshman and realized it was the answer to making his dream a reality. The first big challenge, cost, was successfully covered when his Glendale classmates raised the money he needed in a fund raiser- Candy for Collin.
After months of grueling surgeries and rehabilitation, he received his diploma by walking across the graduation stage to a standing ovation from the classmates who helped to lift him up. He was never alone. He is a great example of what courage, perseverance and hard work can accomplish. But so are the amazing people in his life. From his parents to the medical providers to his friends, teachers and school mates. Together they helped him stand and walk.
We’ve all heard inspirational stories from those who overcome incredible hardships and issues to rise to phenomenal heights. But they don’t happen in a vacuum.
Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and richest people in the world, grew up in Milwaukee. She was repeatedly molested by her cousin, uncle and a family friend. At 14 she gave birth to a baby boy who later died. She found solace in books, reading was a way to escape. After winning a full scholarship to college, the rest is history.
Stephen Spielberg was rejected from USC film school, twice! One of the most prolific film makers ever, they awarded him an honorary degree in 1994.
Stephen King was rejected by thirty publishing companies. So upset he threw his book into a waste basket and swore he’d never write again. His wife refused to let him give up and “Carrie” went on to worldwide fame, selling over 350 million print copies and multiple movies.
Dolly Parton grew up the fourth of twelve children in a one bedroom cabin with dirt floors. The love she felt from her family shines through everything she writes, making it clear being there for each other, regardless of the hardships, is empowering. Her coat of many colors says it all.
Adversity is part of life. Some have a lot more than others. What we do with it ultimately defines who we are. And who we become.
1) It can give us purpose. Adversity can clarify what we want in life and help to define what we want to achieve.
2) Sadness and struggles are part of life. But as the Buddhists believe, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is an option.”
3) Keep your eye on the prize. Let it fortify, not diminish your goals.
4) Believe in you. If you don’t who will?
5) Honor the struggle. There will always be both good and bad days. It’s the path we choose to follow that decides where we end up.
6) Take action. Nothing comes from sitting idly and wishing things were better.
And finally, ask for help.
If you need help, ask for it.
If you can give help, please give it.
We are in this together.
When one rises, we all rise.