The Odds Against Antonio Dixon

Antonio Dixon
Former Washington Times colleague David Elfin has written a fabulous piece for AOL’s NFL Fanhouse about Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon. This is a great football story that has as much if not more going for it than that of Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher, as chronicled in the book and movie, “The Blind Side.”

A few excerpts from Elfin’s story about Dixon:
• Dixon’s father was sentenced to 25 years in prison while Dixon was only 3 years old
• Dixon and his four siblings spent years in homeless shelters while growing up
• He estimates he went to some 15 elementary schools and never learned to read

This is an inspirational story about perseverance and overcoming odds no child or teen should ever have to face. Read the full story here: Antonio Dixon Has Beaten Longest Odds.

Elizabeth Edwards’ Legacy

Elizabeth Edwards inspired others. There’s no question about that. In the wake of her death yesterday after a six-year battle with cancer, after all the stories about the struggles she faced in life have been told and retold, we’re left with the legacy of Elizabeth Edwards. It is one of inspiration, we believe.

In her life, lived very publicly, she had to endure the death of a child — her first-born, Wade, at 16, as a result of an auto accident. That alone is perhaps the most crushing blow anyone must endure in life. But that wasn’t the end of the challenges that came her way. She had to battle breast cancer, a battle she ultimately lost on Dec. 7, 2010. And she had to endure the enormous publicity and public embarrassment surrounding the news of her husband’s infidelity and the fact that he fathered a child with his mistress.

“She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and to those who felt they knew her,” said Vice President Joe Biden. And as the first line in a Palm Beach Post health section story notes that she was “Inspirational to the end.”

Elizabeth Edwards also has been described as steely and strong, ambitious and determined — interesting words; words that could take on a positive or negative connotation depending on the context. She was demeaned in the book, “Game Change,” written about the 2008 presidential campaign, as being less than pleasurable to deal with. But think about all that. Put yourself in her shoes for just a moment if you can. Think about the pain of losing a child; think about having to cope with a deadly disease on a daily basis; think about having the infidelity of your spouse revealed on one of the most public of stages. How would you behave? How would you react? How would you carry all that day after day? Any one of those three things impacting your life would be enough to send many to bed in a dark room where they would remain for months. Think about dealing with all three of those things.

Elizabeth Edwards kept going until she could continue no longer, in spite of all the pain, heartache and suffering she lived through. The line, “Inspirational to the end,” is an appropriate one.

‘Breaking Night’ – The Power of the Serenity Prayer

Click the above image to go to an amazing video that is on Guidepost’s website about a woman who went from “Homeless to Harvard” and who came to learn the Serenity Prayer at a very young age in a way no teen ever should have to. It’s an amazingly inspiring explanation of the meaning of the prayer and it’s impact and the comfort it gave to a motherless, homeless teen.

Liz Murray’s book, “Breaking Night,” details her incredible young life, a life no child should have to live through, as a child of parents addicted to and dealing drugs, which resulted in her going out on the streets, which she saw as an escape and a step up from where she was. At age 15, she took control of what she could, and let go of trying to control what she couldn’t, and began her journey to Harvard and beyond. As she says in the video, “If I could just pick the things that I had some control over, and give the rest to something higher than myself, let it go, surrender to it, focus on what I could control — and for me that was education. It was school. I couldn’t change any of that, but you know what? I could show up at school everyday. … I could get not only a B, but I could get an A.”

The Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Author Laura Hillenbrand’s Inspiration

Who knew? Author Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote the book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, which generated a 2003 movie of the same name, has been a shut-in for years due to the debilitating nature of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) she is suffering.

Author Laura Hillenbrand's book, UnbrokenShe’s coming out with her second non-fiction book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, about Louis Zamperini, who was an Olympic runner, World War II bombardier and a POW. After his plane was shot down, he spent 47 days on a raft in the Pacific Ocean before being captured by the Japanese. He was beaten routinely and starved by his captors. But he survived, and now at the age of 93 continues to work as a motivational speaker.

A story posted a couple days ago on USA Today’s website about the remarkable resolve of this author of inspiring true stories is a must-read. This author of inspiring books is herself an inspiration in her ongoing battle in dealing with the debilitating nature of CFS.

UPDATE, Nov. 14, 2010: Former Washington Times colleague Rick Snider, who now writes for The Examiner in Washington, D.C., filed this column for the newspaper following his interview with author Hillenbrand — Rick Snider: Survivor of the Unthinkable.

Joe Beene’s Inspiration: A Quadriplegic’s Story

Joe Beene (Photo courtesy Joe Beene)

It was 10 years ago, exactly, that Joe Beene’s world changed instantaneously. On Nov. 8, 2000, Joe was a 17-year-old, playing linebacker for his Permian High School football team in Odessa, Texas.

It was their final practice of the year before they were to meet their arch-rivals from across town, Odessa High School. Joe, a senior, made what seemed like a routine tackle. But the tackle was anything but routine. “I was tackling somebody, and my neck went back,” said Joe in a sort of matter-of-fact manner.

He remembers the time immediately after the tackle very well. “I stopped breathing. I was awake. I was wondering what was going on — you know, you can’t breathe.”

He knew something was wrong, but all he could do was lie there. “I couldn’t speak, but with my eyes I was saying, ‘Do something! Do something!’ I went without air for seven minutes. I should be dead or brain dead. But God kept me alive.”

Joe says he didn’t realize right away the seriousness of what had happened, “not until about three days later, after surgery. They fused C1 and C2 [vertebrae] together. I woke up after surgery and my dad told me what happened; I started crying — because I was thankful that God kept me alive and I wasn’t brain dead.”

What happened to Joe 10 years ago on that tackle left him paralyzed from the neck down. But what happened to Joe 10 years ago also turned his life on a path that led him closer to God and into a powerful relationship with Jesus. In the decade that’s gone by since his injury, he’s become an ordained minister, and he just got his degree this summer from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, where he majored in history and minored in business.

“It was amazing,” said Joe about the injury. “I should have died; I should have been brain dead.”

But he wasn’t. What overwhelmed Joe wasn’t the devastating injury, “it was that God had kept me alive for that long; maybe he had given me another chance at life. I started crying because I was thankful for that.”

Joe takes a larger view of the accident that left him a quadriplegic: “Everyone goes through hard things. It’s not like I’m an exception to the rule.”

We wanted to know — did he have strong faith before the injury? His answer was Continue reading “Joe Beene’s Inspiration: A Quadriplegic’s Story”

Faith, Focus and Follow-Through

Faith and fear. What’s the difference between the two? Faith is the polar opposite of fear. That’s easy.

Faith = Finding Answers In The Heart.
Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real.

What’s knocked you down in life? Have you been able to get back up, and continue on? Or have you struggled as a result? Have you gotten back up, shrugged off the blows and carried on with perseverance, stronger faith and determination? Or has fear gripped you and held you back? Made you tenuous in your walk through life?

Which has a hold of you right now?

The three “F”s of success are:

  • Faith
  • Focus
  • Follow-through

Let’s have Faith in those three “F”s. Let’s focus on that and follow through on setting and accomplishing goals. Great quote by Henry Ford: “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

It’s all about you and your approach. Keep going, don’t falter, have faith.

Surviving a Shotgun Blast to the Face

InspiredON by Perseverance —According to Chrissy Steltz, the survivor of an accidental shotgun blast to the face as quoted in a special report done by the Portland Oregonian, “When anybody finds out how I went blind, their first comment 99 percent of the time is, ‘I’m sorry.’ And my response to that is: I’m not. I lived. There’s nothing to be sorry about living through something like that. Don’t be sorry for me. Be happy for me. Be proud of the fact that I have gone on with my life.”

Police officer, Bob Baxter, who responded to the scene of the shooting also was quoted in the Oregonian story: “Most of her face was gone. There was just this gaping hole in her face where her eyes and nose and most of her mouth had been. I thought she was dead. I just figured this was going to be another homicide scene.

“Then I saw her fingers start to move — ever so slightly. And it looked like she was trying Continue reading “Surviving a Shotgun Blast to the Face”