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Paying it Forward and Beyond

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.” — Tommy Lasorda  

Just a few weeks ago, I started my last semester of college. Throughout the four years I’ve met many interesting people, all whom have unique stories and qualities to offer. I’ve met people of all ages, races, religions, and social statuses.  At a recent early morning class I met a girl with a truly inspiring story.

She was born with Cerebral Palsy. She is a twin. Her twin brother is healthy and independent. Her disability was caused by a doctor’s mistake. Her name is Kristen.

For those who are unaware of what Cerebral Palsy is, it is caused by a severe injury of the brain at birth, or within the first 2 years of a child’s life when the brain is still developing. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

After class, she and I went to the cafeteria to grab a quick bite to eat before our next class. In the short hour that we spent talking, she shared her story with me and how she maintains this incredibly positive attitude and desire to give back.

Within the first years of her life the doctors informed her parents that she would need physical therapy right away if there was any hope of her walking or functioning on her own. “I couldn’t sit up on my own. I was like a rag doll.” she said. Her parents began therapy immediately and as she grew older they took her to a horseback riding academy that focuses on therapeutic exercise to assist the disabled and enhance the quality of life for all who attend. Instead of focusing on the problem or disability, the academy focused on the ability.

Over the years Kristen learned how to sit up and walk, and she is now able to function on her own. She still has her struggles and has to wear braces on her legs, but the riding school allowed her to accomplish a realm of independence that she would not have had the ability to do otherwise. She still attends the academy and also volunteers regularly. “I feel like I owe them. I have a second and a third mom there. I have to volunteer because they gave me my life.” Kristen chooses to “pay it forward” so others can benefit as she did.

“There have been times when I felt like giving up or giving in.” Kristen shared. But she is a determined girl who, although, has had many obstacles and odds against her, has powered through and overcome them.

We all have issues and roadblocks in our lives. How you handle and react to the situations can allow your inner beauty and personality to shine. Think positively. Give generously and take pride in all that you do. Kristen proved to me that determination is a motivating force for success and achieving goals that you set for yourself.

This quote summarizes it perfectly:
“Crystallize your goals. Make a plan for achieving them and set yourself a deadline. Then, with supreme confidence, determination and disregard for obstacles and other people’s criticisms carry out your plan.”–Paul J. Meyer

Information on “Paying it Forward” Day
“The ripple effect” begins on Thursday, April 26, 2012. For more information visit this website http://payitforwardday.com/. See what you can do to make a difference, but don’t just do it then, do it every time you have a chance! Start paying it forward now and beyond!

Brittney Nowak, AWP Intern

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