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What’s your crutch, and how do you use it? Be humble, inspire, and overcome! You got this!

What’s your crutch, and how do you use it?

Be humble, inspire, and overcome! You got this!

I remember racing a triathlon in Lake St. Louis a number of years ago. It was my first open water swim triathlon and I was scared. Open water swims start out a bit like a swimming roller derby, elbows, hands and feet everywhere as folks aggressively jockey for position in the water.

I was standing completely able bodied on the beach trying to finalize my strategy for not drowning when I noticed an athlete behind me. She was sitting in her wheel chair where the concrete path met the sand of the beach. She was taking off both her prosthetic legs that attached just under where her knees should be. She hoisted herself out of her chair to the beach and walked down to the water on her hands. She sat at the edge of the water calmly splashing water onto her thighs face and hair before putting on her swim cap and goggles. Suddenly I was no longer nervous.

The race gun sounded and we all ran into the water hitting kicking and elbowing each other in the water

until the competitors spread out. I focused on the training my swim coach provided me, and before I knew it I felt the sand of the beach shallows on my fingertips towards the finish line. I stood up to run the rest of the way out of the water and I noticed the same woman already up the beach sitting in her wheel chair placing her prosthetic legs back on.

By the time I reached the bike transition area the woman from the wheel chair was headed out the bike gate onto the cycling course. I never saw her again until I was crossing the finish line of the final part of the race at the run. That same woman was there standing and cheering on the finishers as they came in. Once I had a chance to catch my breath, I walked over to her to thank her for cheering the finishers and she said, "why don’t you join me?" So I did. We exchanged a few niceties during this time.

As the finishers began to spread out a bit and there were more breaks in the cheering I looked at her and told her that I was nervous going into my first open water swim, and shared that seeing her getting into the water made me feel brave and calm. She smiled sweetly at me. I said, “You are an inspiration!” She looked at me with an extremely sincere glance, and said, “Thank you, but I just work hard like you do! You are an inspiration as well, doing your first open water swim is a scary thing to overcome!” I was completely surprised by her response back to me. I am not sure what I expected, but it certainly was not that.

From that moment on, I decided that I would never use what I thought was a limitation as an excuse, a handicap, a crutch. I decided I would work hard. I do not know this woman’s name, and I never met her again in competition, but that few hours at that race with her made a true and lasting impact on me. Meeting her, and the decision I made that day has been enormously helpful through the challenges I have encountered in my life. Small ones, like trying to manage my time so I can achieve success in areas that are important to me. Some more impactful obstacles like moving away from my home martial arts gym, injuries, and significant illness.

I have further found inspiration on social media. I thought I would share! Some may make you tear up a bit so be ready!

Here are some of my favorite stories and or people that inspire me in different ways.

This is a father son duo Dick Hoyt is Rick Hoyt's father. Rick was born with cerebral palsy and later in life wanted to compete in races. This father son duo is incredibly inspiring.

This gentleman Jay T. Maryniak made some decisions in his youth that led to drug and alcohol addiction. He asked for help, and is a recovering addict. He used fitness as his therapy, and then found hardship again when he became ill and was diagnosed with type one diabetes. He has not let these challenges keep him down! He talks about his challenges and shares with others you can overcome! Instagram account JTM_FIT

Shaquem Griffin faced every obstacle imaginable after losing his left hand at age 4 as a result of Amniotic Band Syndrome, but football is his passion and he refuses to quit. Now, as he prepares to be picked in the 2018 NFL Draft, his story is inspiring others in a truly meaningful way.

What is your crutch?

It will not stop you!

-Miss Tammy