Glen Cunningham is my hero because of his courage and determination in overcoming a devastating burn to his legs when he was only 7 years old. The doctors told his parents that he would never walk again, yet he did. This injury could have stopped him but Glenn succeeded because he had a positive attitude, “As long as you believe you can do things, they’re not impossible. You place limits on yourself mentally not physically.”1
Cunningham described his struggle, “Slowly, I pushed my pain-wracked body upright in bed. Bracing myself, I moved my right leg one inch toward the edge of the bed…then another inch…then the left limb the same way. Finally I got both badly burned legs over the edge and onto the floor. … Sweat broke out on my body. My head was reeling … how my legs hurt!”23
This determined boy went on to become the premier miler of his day, winning the Kansas state high school championship, the national high school championship, two NCAA titles, and ten AAU national titles. He also ran in two Olympics and achieved many other things. It all started because he had the courage to try. Each of us would do well to follow his example, find our hidden courage, and use it so we can conquer our challenges.
I believe the courage to try is foundational to breaking the fear that so frequently stops us from reaching our potential. All of us, young and old alike, have challenges and can benefit as we find the courage to try to overcome them.
1Tanner, B. Cunningham’s character made him a champion. The Wichita Eagle, April 5, 2004.
2Cazier, C., F. (2005). I Have Tourette’s But Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me: Resiliency & Children with Tourette’s. Class Assignment – Health 6000, Dr. Glenn Richardson, Instructor.
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- Truly love your child enough to give them instruction and encouragement and then let them do it themselves.
- Praise them for their effort and improvement, not accomplishment.