The following are inspirational stories of athletes and others who through their actions have made a difference in their own life as well as the lives of others.
Some have triumphed over great adversity, while others simple followed their values and principles to demonstrate that a single action can create ripple effects that touch and inspire the lives of others.
At age 4, Wilma Rudolph was severely weakened when she contracted polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system. She survived the illness, but she lost the use of her left leg. Doctors told her she would be unable to walk correctly without braces, if at all, for the rest of her life. However, through the efforts of her loving and devoted family and her own determination, she learned to run and rose from disability to Olympic glory.
When Wilma was 13, she got involved in organized sports including basketball and track. She soon was not just running, but winning the races. In four seasons of high school track meets, she never lost a race. In 1956, at the age of sixteen and just a sophomore in high school, she participated in the Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia where she took home the bronze medal.
At the 1960 Olympics, Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash and the 400 meter relay. She tied the world record in the 100-meter and set a new Olympic record in the 200.
In 2003 Bethany was attacked by a 14 foot tiger shark, which ripped her left arm off just below the shoulder. By the time she reached the hospital she had lost 70% of her blood. She was surfing 3 weeks later and in 2004 received an ESPY award for Best Comeback Athlete of the Year.
For a kid like Cayden, with cerebral palsy, a lot of activities are unthinkable. But for a kid like Conner, the only thing that’s unthinkable is leaving his brother behind.
Applause swells through the aquatic center as Conner Green swims. Splashing with determination, he reaches mid-lap in his very first triathlon as the crowd of spectators urges him forward.
The 7-year-old stares ahead, peering through the lenses of his blue-rimmed goggles, and kicks hard. One hand grabs at the water in front of him. The other hand tugs the raft behind him, where his 5-year-old brother, Cayden Long, enjoys the ride.
Cayden has cerebral palsy. He can’t walk. He can’t speak. But with his brother’s help, he can swim, bike and run.
At the June 5 Nashville Kids Triathlon, the duo did all three. With Conner pushing and pulling Cayden through the course, the boys did something together they have never been able to do before. The physical demands on Conner were intense, but the physical limitations of his brother propelled him.
“There’s a saying,” Conner says. “ ‘Never say never.’ ”
Written by Jessica Bliss | The Tennessean 9:15 AM, Jun. 13, 2011
READ MORE…Visit Nashvillekidstriathlon.com to read more on the brothers from The Tennessean.
Carl Joseph was born without a left leg to a single mother in a family of 11, but that did not discourage Carl, who became a three-sport star in high school. In basketball, he blocked opponents’ shots into the stands and could dunk at just 6’1?. He high jumped 5’10? in Track and Field. In football, as a captain, he played nose tackle on defense and hopped to make tackles. He later went on to play college football at Bethune-Cookman College.
On April 21, 2009, in a Bayonne, NJ Little League game, Mackenzie Brown accomplished one of the most extraordinary achievements in baseball – a perfect game. She became the first player to throw a perfect game in Bayonne little league’s 58 year-old history. Mackenzie says, “In the fourth inning I kind of knew. Then I just tried to keep doing what I was doing and not try to mess up.” Mackenzie struck out a dozen batters including the last six batters she faced — all boys — in route to her perfect game
Scott Rigsby was an 18 year old kid just prior to his first college semester, riding in the back of a pickup truck when suddenly the truck was hit by a passing 18-wheeler. Scott was thrown underneath the 3-ton landscape trailer that was attached to truck he was riding in. He was dragged over 300 feet. His back suffered third degree burns, his right leg was severed off and his left leg hung barely intact. After over a decade of numerous doctor visits, hospital stays and surgeries, Scott was able to lift himself from depression to become a triathlon champion.
He has completed in over a dozen triathlons on his way to setting world records for a double below-the-knee amputee in the Full Marathon, Half Ironman, and International Distance Triathlon. All of which earned him a spot on the 2006 USA Triathlon Team.