The other day I went to Hopkins High School and spoke to a class called Peer Insights. I took the same class when I was a junior there and it was by far my favorite. It is designed to integrate people with disabilities and their peers; it is a great concept that gives insight to all types of situations. When I took it, we went on field trips, had guest speakers and did a lot of fun activities. This was the first time I’ve done any public speaking since 2014 and it was also to a Peer Insights class.
This was the 2nd time I went back to my high school since graduating and it still brings back memories. I was 16 and a sophomore at the time of my accident. After spending 6 months in the hospital I went back my junior year. It was difficult adjusting to being in a wheelchair along with attending classes and trying to make it through the long days. Although my positivity and determination surpassed everything and I was able to graduate on time with my class in 2005.
During my speech, I shared my story and talked about the challenges I've been through and the obstacles I have overcome. I also spoke about how I continue to stay positive despite my situation and what I'm doing now. They had tons of questions and I showed them my vent and how I move my wheelchair. Then I asked them to share their stories of any challenges or things in their life that they have gone through. It was interesting to hear what they had to say.
After I got done speaking, I started talking to a girl in the front row who was a senior. She asked what elementary school I went to. When I told her I went to Glen Lake, she stated that she went there too. After talking for a couple of minutes, she said she remembered me from when I spoke there in 2009 to a class of 3rd graders and she was one of them!
Here is a post I did on my blog in 2011. They are similar stories that have happened in the past:
"I was at school the other day heading to my class when a guy stopped me in the hallway. He told me he remembered me from a speaking engagement I did three years ago. It was a 15 min. speech after a mock car crash to about 1200 students and faculty at Eastview high school. He was one of them.
I was kind of taken aback because I didn't expect it. He said that I inspired him that day. He also told me to keep speaking and sharing my story; that I'm amazing and inspirational. It felt really good to hear and know that I had touched somebody.
This reminds me of a similar story that took place a couple of years ago. I had spoken to a group of about 80 sixth-graders at Glen Lake elementary school. One of the students in particular had gone home that day and talked to his parents about my speech. He told them about me speaking and my story.
A couple of days after I had spoke, I received an e-mail from the boy's father. He told me that his son had come home talking about me. Then he said I don't know if you remember me, but I was one of the firemen that helped pull you out of the car that night. I came and visited you in the hospital afterwards.
Chills went through as I read those words over and over. I did remember him; he brought me a St. Christopher medal. He also said in the e-mail that him and his department still talk about that night. It's amazing the connections that we have in the world throughout life. I'm thankful every day that I'm alive and able to help others just by being me. I hope to have many more stories like this to share."
It turns out I did get another story out of what I do; that’s exactly the reason why I love speaking, sharing my journey and inspiring others. I have joy and happiness while knowing that I’m still here living my life out, despite what happened to me. It just goes to show that I have so much more to offer and I’m definitely going to keep spreading my message.