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The Milton Measure

Paralympic Hall of Fame Skier Chris Waddell Visits Milton

by on Friday, April 28th, 2017

On April 14, Paralympian and Founder of the One Revolution Foundation Chris Waddell visited Milton Academy to share an important message with the Upper School: “It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you.” His message was birthed from a skiing accident he suffered on December 20th, 1998, in which he broke two vertebrae and consequently paralyzed the lower half of his body. Despite his life-altering injuries, Waddell went on to become the most successful male mono-skier in history, winning thirteen medals in four Winter Paralympics, earning spots in the Paralympic Hall of Fame and the United States Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, and receiving the Dalai Lama’s “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” Award. He is also the first paraplegic to ever climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. Most recently, he founded the One Revolution Foundation, a non-profit organization determined to change the perception of the limitations of a disability.

During the Friday morning assembly, Waddell sought to demonstrate the limits that labels can impose on those with disabilities. He discussed what he referred to as the four S’s of Resilience: Self, Situation, Support, and Strategies. Each “S” is assigned to two opposite words: Victim or Survivor, Overwhelming or Challenge, Alone or Part of a Team, and One or Many. Waddell pointed out that any individual in a tough situation is either the first or second word for each “S”. As someone who used to perceive himself as a victim in an overwhelming situation, Waddell understands from experience that in order to surmount his handicap and the barriers lying ahead of him, he had to change his perception of himself and the ways in which he approached his situation. Becoming a paraplegic presented him the opportunity to demonstrate resilience by turning his difficult situation into one of transformation and fulfillment. He made it clear that he would never have been as successful as he is now had he not become paralyzed.

Tyler Piazza (I) commended Waddell for his presentation, saying “It’s always good to hear a story of working hard and not letting life get in your way. It was also powerful to see just how confident and well-spoken the guy was, even though he went through an accident that ruined his skiing career.” Jen Zhao (III) agreed, saying that “his resilience [was] extremely inspiring especially because I compared the stresses and hardships I’m experiencing at this moment to his – there’s no reason I should be upset about where and who I am today.” Brandon Li (III) shared what he took most away from the assembly saying, “It was super inspirational and a great way to get the entire school motivated.” He added how Chris Waddell’s speech showed him “how to think of obstacles not as a disability but as a challenge we should push to overcome.”

Chris Waddell effectively communicated the idea that no matter how tough the situation, the way one approaches their challenge is the most important factor towards living a free life, one without being chained by one’s disabilities. While disabilities, at the surface, may seem unfortunate, they are only as bad as one perceives them to be.

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Posted by on Apr 28 2017. Filed under More News, News, Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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