Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Achieving against all odds

"We are not able to choose when to start our lives, but we must be brave enough to walk to the end of our lives!" I saw this in my friend's msn status, suddenly this made me to recall another inspirational story told by my Management Studies lecturer today.

The character of today's story was Wilma Rudolph, one who was best-known to be the first American woman to get 3 medals in one Olympic Games. She was born pre-matured and weighted 4.5 pounds only. She was from a poor family, with father worked as a railroad porter and handyman, while mother did housekeeping for wealthy white men. They were barely able to make the ends meet by making girls' dresses out of flour sacks. Wilma Rudolph was from really a big family, as the 2oth child of 22 siblings! She was a rather weak kid, suffering from illness one after another like chicken pox, measles, mumps, scarlet fever and double pneumonia which led polio.

Polio is the world's most dreaded disease, there was no cure for it until 1955. Most children contract with polio will either die or never walk again. Click here to get more information about polio.

As a consequence of racial segregation, Wilma Rudolph was not able to get the professional care from hospital. Her mother had to send her 50 miles away from house twice a week for treatment for two years. The doctor told Mrs. Rudolph that Wilma would never walk, however, with the support and care from the whole family, Wilma learned to be a strong kid with the determination to be a "normal kid". By the age of 9, she shocked everyone by taking off the heavy steel braces fitted to her when she was 6 and started walking. By the age of 12, she could walk like a normal person without the help of any braces, crutches or corrective shoes. Shortly after one year, she played basketball and became the basketball star. Later, she emerged in track. Her talent was noticed by Ed Temple, a coach of Tennessee State University. She became the track star at the tender age of 16! She was qualified for the Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia and came home with a bronze medal. She received numerous awards and recognitions throughout and after her life:

  1. United Press Athlete of the Year 1960
  2. Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year 1960
  3. James E. Sullivan Award for Good Sportsmanship 1961 *
  4. The Babe Zaharias Award 1962
  5. European Sportswriters' Sportsman of the Year *
  6. Christopher Columbus Award for Most Outstanding International Sports Personality 1960*
  7. The Penn Relays 1961 *
  8. New York Athletic Club Track Meet *
  9. The Millrose Games *
  10. Black Sports Hall of Fame 1980
  11. U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame 1983
  12. Vitalis Cup for Sports Excellence 1983
  13. Women's Sports Foundation Award 1984
  14. In 1993, she became the first recipient of President Clinton’s National Sport Award.
  15. In 1997, proclaimed June 23 as Wilma Rudolph Day in Tennessee
  16. In 2004, the United States Postal Service honored Wilma by featuring her likeness on a 23-cent stamp.The asterisk indicates that she was the first person to get the award.
*The asterisk indicates that she was the first person to get the award.

Here are some quotes from Wilma Rudolph:

“My doctor told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.”

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”

“The human will is the most incredible thing. I believe it is the human will that keeps us going, when everyone else expects us to sit, or even quit.”

“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”

At the age of 44, Rudolph passed away after the brain cancer gnawed at her for two years. In that two years, she never gave up to coach the underprivileged children. The Olympic flag was covered on the casket to appreciate her for the contribution.

Wilma Rudolph was not given the chance to choose when to come to this world, neither she had the chance to say "I do not want to have cancer"... However she chose to live to the end of her life bravely with the passing words "when confronted with adversity, you must meet it, greet it and defeat it!"

Many do not appreciate themselves by doing a lot of things to hurt themselves and some even worst, they end their own lives. However compared to Rudolph, they are far luckier actually. Many choose to end their lives actually because they lock themselves with seas of negative thoughts.

Therefore we should always remember Wilma Rudolph's passing words, "when confronted with adversity, you must meet it, greet it and defeat it!"
Or perhaps as what my friend put in her msn status, "We are not able to choose when to start our lives, but we must be brave enough to walk to the end of our lives!"

The followings are the links more about Wilma Rudolph:
Wilma Rudolph biography
Internation Olympic Committee-Athletes
Wilma Rudolph-Wilipedia
The My Hero Project


Janicia said...

Meet it. Greet it then defeat it.
Very powerful words. Kudos to you in looking up such an esteemed personality.

nostalgia.jesskang said...

Haha... Let's apply it in our lives...