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Inspiration and Hope

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    Inspiration and Hope

    Here is a sidebar I wrote to a full page feature article on our son Noah. It was published in our hometown newspaper. The article included a lengthy interview with Noah and sidebars on his scholarship, a serendipitous event from the scholars weekend, and a word from his Dad. Unfortunately, they have not linked the feature through their modest website. So, I copied and pasted from my website.

    Though these comments pay tribute to our community in Hood River, they could just as easily be directed at our extended family which includes the Care Cure Community.


    By JOHN SMITH August 15, 2007


    In December of 2002, our son, Noah, broke his neck in a freak accident. Many of you know the story. He was returning to school at the University of Oregon after spending Thanksgiving at home. The injury left him paralyzed from his nipples down.

    Prior to this misfortune, his presence in the Hood River Valley went relatively unnoticed; he was just another good kid from an ordinary family.

    The accident changed that. People were suddenly aware of Noah. Many followed his travels on blogs and emails as he ventured to Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Southern California in search of recovery. Together, we have all come a long way since that first bleak winter.

    In our travels around the country, we’ve met many other families experiencing the life-changing consequences of a spinal injury. Among the things we share with them is the romantic misperception that our injured children are inspirational. We understand the sentiment, but trust me, from the inside looking out, inspiration is the farthest thing from any of our minds.

    Rather than triumph over adversity, paralysis is really more about managing one’s dignity, warding off bankruptcy, and, yes, swallowing the bitter pill of resignation.

    With a spinal injury you must constantly dodge complications. The problem, of course, is that you don’t move very fast, if at all. Life comes at you but you can no longer get out of the way. Some experience chronic pressure sores. Others have unremitting pain. All endure accessibility oversights. Then, there is this problem of being an inspiration.

    When you live in the glare of paralysis, faint praise casts an awkward shadow. Most spinal injured individuals are busy unscrambling the puzzle of each day; they hardly have time to feel like guiding lights. Consequently, it’s funny and at times annoying, for others to place them on a pedestal.

    I don’t say this to scold or invite pity. I say it out of respect for all the others who are injured and have not benefited from the opportunities given to Noah. We now have friends who would just like the use of one hand or the ability to cough. The exertion of living with paralysis requires resolution, conducted, for the most part, in private. Noah’s good health and attitude sometimes make it seem effortless. It is not.

    Obviously, he needed help. From the contributions both large and small, to the extensive pro bono professional services, and through the tenderest of generosities, this valley gave and gave, again and again. Thus, Noah pursued a standard of care that, in a perfect world, would be the standard of care.

    My son is not an inspiration. The better word is hopeful. He embodies the hope dormant in all of us who contend with whatever condition. Hope is the amorphous building block from which one can begin anew. This community provided, freely and without expectation, the mortar to bond that hope together.

    It was those of you who thought they could make a difference – and did, when things were the least promising – that allowed Noah to construct a partial solution to this mess. Noah’s injury transformed our lives but the collective goodness of this community was a revelation.

    It is you who are inspirational; it is you who belong on a pedestal.
    "Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence." Lin Yutang

    well done John
    oh well


      Mr Smith I do believe that you may be the most talented writer amongst us.

      You get it. That's a high compliment from a dis to an AB and it doesn't come easily. David gets it, in my life. They are few and very far between that 'get it'. You obviously have strong bonds that lift each other up and hold. How lucky and deserving you all are! Beautifully written ....
      Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

      T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12



        Thank you for the opportunity to know you a little better and the opportunity for me to grow from your sharing and caring.



        ... rolling since 1989

        BE NICE!It's free

        P.S. ~ I have "handicapabilities"

        TWITTER: @MacBerry


          Those that get it are VERY few, and yes, John is one of them. "Bitter pill of resignation" = sheer genius.
          Does This Wheelchair Make My Ass Look Fat?


            JS, a pretty cool guy.


              That was an extremely moving read. Thank you!


                Simply--Bravo, Mr. Smith.
                Please submit your photo and story of hope: