Maia, who is a freshman at a nearby high school, is an inspiration to all who know her or watch her. She is in my heart and in my mind. How can so much determination be packed into one young woman? Yesterday, Maia had her first swim meet. Before she finished her first race, she had the entire audience cheering for her including the opposing team. I have known her for a number of years now. We met several years ago at a basketball game at the school where I use to teach. Maia, who was in elementary school at the time, has cerebral palsy and, in addition to the loss of motor control, is also unable to speak. She has not let any of that stop her. Maia communicates very well through a combination of sign language, gestures, and mannerisms. All who know her are impressed by her refusal to allow her disability to interfere with what she wants to do. Maia’s daily life is full of obstacles, but she does not perceive them as problems. She looks at them as challenges and faces them head-on.
This summer, when my friend Andy Dahmen was here I wanted him and Maia to meet. They both play important roles in my life and I knew they would hit it off right away. I was not disappointed.
Left to right Me, Maia, her sister Maddy, her Mom Tonya and Andy
All of us face obstacles in our lives. It’s very easy to come up with an excuse that seems plausible at the time, but in reality we are allowing events to dictate how we live our lives. A great lesson can be learned from watching Maia confront obstacles that seem overwhelming to others. She confronts her challenges in a way that we would all benefit from emulating. Next time you need some inspiration think of this young woman, how much she loves life and refuses to allow its challenges to deter her from living life the way she wants to.