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disability awareness

FUSE Foundation Retreat – A Whole Lotta Stories

Fuse Foundation Retreat - Chet McDoniel speaks on happinessThis past weekend, Joni and I drove up to Wichita, KS, as I had been invited to speak at the FUSE Foundation’s Retreat. The FUSE Foundation was established in 2008 to provide opportunities for social networking, recreation and education for young adults with neuromuscular disease. The “campers” had spent Friday and Saturday having a wonderful time getting to know each other, playing fun games, and I even found out about some midnight karaoke.

I was asked to come in for their final morning together on Sunday and tell them about my story. I realized as I was speaking that many of these young adults had been through more difficult times than I had, and that I could very well learn some lessons from them rather than the other way around. I told my story as I usually do, told them about the love of Jesus that goes so much deeper than the way we look, and then I opened the floor up to questions as I often do. Well, I was not prepared for what came next!

The group there had the funniest questions and stories to tell me that I had ever heard. Whether it be from friends trying to sneak one girl, who is in a wheelchair, past a security camera by simply having her wear a ski mask, (“Yeah, that’ll hide my wheelchair,” she said) or making up why we are handicapped when someone asks us a rude question (One guy there said he had gotten someone else to believe he had fallen off of the Empire State Building), these stories were hilarious. They had me laughing so hard, I almost couldn’t breathe.

I so enjoyed being with the FUSE Foundation group as I learned so much about being happy in the face of struggles. These young adults are the light of the world, and I thank them for their smiles last Sunday morning as I spoke. You all are awesome!!!

Fuse Foundation Retreat Group Picture with Chet McDoniel

The Hills of Tennessee

We just returned from a fantastic tour of several spots in Tennessee and Arkansas. The trip started on Wednesday, the 15th, at the Concord Road Church of Christ in Brentwood, TN where a cousin and her family attend. My dad and I presented “All He Needs For Heaven” and we enjoyed having worship led by my cousin’s son. I love being with family.

On Thursday, I spoke to the David Lipscomb Campus School with my “I’m Not Broken” presentation. I had a blast with the students there as they were extremely attentive and had lots of great (and sometimes hilarious) questions for me. There were over 700 students in attendance, and I’ve never seen such a respectful audience. Usually, I kind find a few people talking or playing with cell phones, etc…not in this group of kids! They were awesome! They allowed Jesus to shine through their wonderful attitudes.

On Friday, I got to speak at Friendship Christian School (FCS) in Lebanon, TN. At FCS that day, they held “Commanders in Action” day. (Their mascot is the commander.) For many years, now, the school has held a day when students with disabilities from all over the county can come and enjoy a festival. Each FCS student is paired with a student who has a disability, and they spend the day getting to know each other and playing games. I told the students how proud of them I was, and I believe they were truly accomplishing Jesus’s mission of showing love to everyone. They were a fantastic group, and I believe the beauty of Jesus could be seen in them and in their actions.

On Sunday, my dad and I again delivered our message to both the Otter Creek Church of Christ and the Hermitage Church of Christ. Both churches have plenty of family members to catch up with, and the praise and worship at both churches made it a fantastic day.

After a couple days of rest, we continued on to Bentonville, Arkansas. On Wednesday the 22nd, I spoke at the corporate offices of Wal-Mart. My assigned topic was disability awareness, and I got to tell them about my experiences in life and in the job force. I believe there many things that corporate America can learn to help make people who have disabilities feel wonderful. The executives at Wal-Mart told me that they learned a lot, and it also helped that I had them laughing through most of the presentation.

That night I got to speak at the Decatur Assembly of God Church in Decatur, Arkansas. They could not have been more receptive to the message, and they were one of the most welcoming crowds I’ve ever had the privilege of speaking before. This was my first sermon to deliver by myself, as my dad had already flown home. I had a blast!

While it was exhausting, and Hannah, Joni and I all wound up with colds, the trip was absolutely thrilling. God has opened so many doors, and we continue to be blown away at His generosity. I’ll leave you with a video shot at David Lipscomb campus school that tells a funny story of a time in junior high when a bully decided to pick a fight with me.