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community speaker

My Name in Lights

This past Thursday, we traveled to Luverne, MN, to speak to the community of Luverne at a fundraiser for the Palace Theatre.  Now, I’ve never been this far north…especially in January.  I was not ready for the brutal reality of what it means for the temperature to be “below zero.”  Wow, if that won’t wake you up, nothing will.  The Palace Theatre in Luverne is an historic location, built in 1915.  While the building has been renovated, it still has that classic theatre feel, and I loved getting to speak there. I particularly enjoyed seeing my name up on the old-style marquee out front complete with flashing lights.  While I had never spoken for a “community event” before, I can tell you that the crowd that gathered last Thursday night was ready to laugh.  It was an incredible evening and it was perfect…well, nearly perfect.

I close out most of my presentations with a song, and on Thursday, I had chosen to close with Garth Brooks, “The River.”  The song was going well until about halfway through when the track I was singing with completely cut out.  For a flash of a second, I was stunned.  Thinking very quickly though, I decided that if I were to quit and walk away, I would not be following my own message of being able to accomplish anything no matter the obstacle.  So…I grinned…said, “there went my track,” and continued singing the song a cappella.  As if on cue, many in the audience began singing with me and providing my rhythm section by clapping along.  I finished the song, and thus completed my message that you CAN do anything.  Many people in the audience asked if was done on purpose…which means I must have hidden my surprise quite well.

We finished out the trip with a stop at Adrian High School were the 5th-12th graders came in for a short talk and a Q&A session.  I love being able to go into schools and encourage, but more importantly, I feel it extremely important to open a line of communication so that students can learn what life is like without arms.  So often, they find out that I’m like they are…just without arms.  I loved getting the chance to be with them, and was a little nervous when I was asked to stay through lunch…until I found out that pizza had been delivered.

While I was ready to get back to relative warmth of Texas (I’ll never appreciate 32 degrees the same way again since coming from a 30 below zero wind chill!), I’ll never forget the kindness and warmth of the community of Luverne and the energy and spirit of the students in Adrian.  Now…if we can just get Texas to warm up outside, we’ll be set!