Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wake Up Call

"I never dwell on my limitations. Instead, I ponder unlimited possibilities." -- Mike Berkson

The quote above is actually from a good friend of mine that I grew up with. He, like me, has Cerebral Palsy, although his is much more severe than mine. Yet, just as I have found a way to use my experiences as a disabled individual to educate and benefit others, so has Mike.

I haven't seen Mike in several years, but I know how he is doing. Why? Because he has taken the world by storm. He created a stage show about the close friendship between him and one of his personal aides, Tim Wambach. The show tells their story, and even better? You get to hear it straight from them. Handicap This! takes what might otherwise be a serious, heavy topic, and discusses it openly, honestly, and with more than enough humor to sweeten the dose of reality.

Unfortunately, I have not yet had the chance to see the show for myself, but I am hoping I can someday soon. I remember when Mike and I were younger, he was always so determined that he would someday make a worthwhile contribution to the world. Hey Mike? You did it.

Handicap This! is also associated with Mike and Tim's not for profit organization the Keep On Keeping On Foundation. This fantastic group works with local service organizations to raise money for equipment and supplies for disabled individuals in need.

If I had to be totally honest, Mike is someone I have always looked up to, whether he knows it or not. And this is why. Telling your story to others takes unbelievable bravery, and strength. Yet Mike does it over and over again. He hasn't let his disability stop him from finding a unique and creative way to give back to the community. And working to fight ignorance and prejudice the way Mike has is certainly giving back..

I too, have a similar duty. Sensei and the other instructors at Equa Do have shown me that regardless of my disability, I can succeed in learning self defense. I have been working diligently to pass this message on to other disabled individuals that I know would benefit from such training. Not only does it bring more students into Equa Do, and give my friends and I a chance to learn together, but it will empower those friends who choose to join me.

Also, Chad and I have been working to start a club to bring together people with disabilities and those who support them to discuss relevant issues and gather information pertaining to life with a disability. To this end, I am trying to arrange for Master Eric and Sensei to give a demonstration of why self defense is important and how people with disabilities can learn to defend themselves. I also want to try to schedule a performance of Handicap This! Both are endeavors I know Mike would be proud of.


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