1. A physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities.
2. A disadvantage or handicap.
The word disability is a hard one. The term can refer to countless conditions and situations, most of which are life-altering for the individuals affected. It has become a label, often replacing the individuality of the person it defines. Many times, the biggest obstacle faced by a person with a disability, is overcoming the stigma attached to that description.
In our family, disability is a word that simply describes something to conquer. My mother, Becky Guinn
, is a a brilliant artist and teacher. She brightens the lives of everyone that comes in contact with her and serves as an encouragement and inspiration for people around the world. She is also a quadruple amputee. The loss of her arms and legs was a horrific event in all of our lives. However, she never stopped long enough to be defined by that loss. The things that made her an amazing woman before are still the same and the strength that allowed her prevail is quick to outshine any visible disability.
Being a quadruple amputee is not a common situation and finding people and families that can relate to our needs and concerns has not been easy. Because of this, I will never forget attending my first baseball game with CAST ministries. As we approached the group, we quickly saw that a majority of members were amputees. Everyone was welcoming, gracious, and having a wonderful time. For once, mom fit in better than we did and it was truly a fabulous evening. I have no idea who won the game (or even who played), but I remember loving the entire experience.
Because of this, I was thrilled to join CAST Ministries'
for their 3rd Annual Walk, Run, & Roll Benefit and Health Fair. This was a wonderful event for families and supported a truly inspiring organization. The day began with a one mile family fun run which preceded the main 5K run. The focus of the day was disability awareness and many organizations joined the event to provide information to attendees. Inflatables, a maze, wheelchair races, a Birds of Prey show, and guest Storm Troopers kept the crowds very entertained throughout the morning.
The most inspiring moment of the day was when the final participant of the 1 mile race came across the finish line. The 5K race had already begun and I was running around with my camera trying to catch shots of my family, who had separated and spread out all over the course. I happened to glance over at the finish line, as a crowd gathered to see the first race come to an end. I remembered seeing the man headed down that last stretch of track as the race began. He passed by long after everyone else and slowly walked with a friend for support. I had honestly forgotten about the first race with the excitement of the start for the second and certainly hadn't realized that it was not quite over. As he came toward the finish line, the power of that moment hit me.
This man had taken every step of this race with determination and perseverance. Each time his foot lifted and returned to the ground, he was a step closer to his final goal. He didn't care about who had passed him or the speed of his race, he simply set his goal and took one step at a time to achieve it. There were many other participants who overcame many personal obstacles that day. The finish line in this race became much more than a judge of speed. In the end, it wasn't about how quickly you finished, but about the journey to the goal.
Watching the final moments of this race, I realized...
- You can only experience the elation of crossing a finish line if you set a goal and enter the race.
- The people that pass you have no affect on your ability to cross the finish line.
- Sometimes, the most important part of a race is the journey there.
- True friendship is found in the people who walk at your pace and encourage you along the way.
Life can change in a moment. It is easy to take for granted that tomorrow you will be able to run, speak, see, and move through the day as you always have before. However, it is not guaranteed. We cannot know what obstacles we will have to face in our future, but we know they will come. The qualities that allow you to persevere in life do not come after tragedies. They are a vital part of the character you build within yourself over a lifetime. You may not know what tomorrow brings, but you can live your life in a way that ensures you will see the finish line, regardless of the obstacles you may face along the way.