By Sylvia Delgado, CAT Chair
A lot of people talk about the things they are going to do. Bonner Paddock, our guest speaker at the May CAT meeting, doesn’t waste time talking – he just does them. Bonner, who was born with cerebral palsy, has pushed himself beyond the limits of his disability over and over again. He is the first person with cerebral palsy to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa unassisted and to successfully finish the Ironman World Championship in Kona,
Hawaii. Bonner shared pictures and videos of those events with us and trust me, they weren’t all pretty! He struggled. He was in pain. Sometimes, it even looked like he might not reach the top of that mountain or finish that marathon after he’d already swum 2.4 miles in the ocean and biked 110 miles. But he did it! That’s because Bonner doesn’t accept defeat; and we shouldn’t either. That was Bonner’s inspirational message to CAT members. He encouraged us all to set goals that push us beyond the limits of our disability or any other circumstances that may hold us back.
Besides being a terrific role model for people with disabilities, Bonner is also a great example of how one person can make a difference. In 2009, Bonner founded the OM Foundation because he wanted to help children with disabilities get the therapies they needed so they could have better lives. Since then, his foundation has raised more than $1 million. It was very exciting to watch a video about the great things that Bonner is doing to support and advocate for people with disabilities in our own community.
After his presentation, Bonner spent time talking with CAT members about their own personal successes. Many CAT members told him that he inspired them to take on new challenges. He inspired me to start riding a bike again. Some CAT members told me that Bonner helped them get a mental picture of whatthey might want to do on their own. Others just said his message was awesome! CAT member Sean Sullivan said that Bonner’s presentation had great meaning and importance because it reminded everyone that sometimes we are the biggest barrier to meeting our individual goals.
I can honestly say that this was one of the best CAT meetings ever and that everyone should hear story. In closing, I want to share one of the messages that Bonner repeated during his talk: It doesn’t matter if you’re having a good day or a bad day – have a positive attitude! And use that positive attitude to work on meeting a goal that pushes you beyond the limits of what you think you can do!