Blog #92~One Yellow Hash Mark at a Time
I just finished this book written by Chad Hymas:
Chad had everything, a beautiful wife, two sons and a thriving business. One evening he made a rushed decision to ignore safety in favor of getting home quickly. Chad was anxious to see his baby boy take his first steps. On that day in 2001, at the age of 27, his life changed in forever when a 2,000-pound bale of hay shattered his neck leaving him a quadriplegic.
What follows is the story of how he fought back to gain his independence and ultimately setting a Guinness World Record by wheeling his chair from Salt Lake City to Vegas (513 miles) in 2003.
This was no easy task for Chad. There was some good news. His spinal cord wasn’t severed. He was able to regain important functions and have wrist movement as well as function in his biceps. In the book, he talks about starting out with his “personal Guinness records”. They were the very basic things that most of us take for granted like putting his own shirt on, brushing his teeth, shaving, and even getting his drivers license. Chad overcame unsurmountable obstacles and continues to inspire others with his message on all 7 continents and 38 countries. He did it by letting go of his old ideas of who he thought he would be and reinvent himself.
The quest to set that Guinness World Record was daunting. The first few days went well. But the desert heat beat down on him, leaving his hands blistered and bloodied. He hits a wall, not able to fathom going another six days. His dad tells him to think of it as one day, not six days. He says “Just do one more day”. With his Father’s encouragement he broke down the goal into smaller increments. One day at a time became one mile at time. He was 90 miles away from his goal. But the mile markers seem too far apart. His Dad steps in, “Son, don’t give up. Break down the goal even more. Instead of mile markers, count the yellow stripes in the middle of the road. They come faster. See if that helps.” After eleven days Chad Hymas crossed that finish line setting a new Guinness World Record!
As I read his powerful message, I thought of all the “personal Guinness records” that my son Nick has mastered. Nick is 20 years old. He has Down syndrome and would later be diagnosed with autism. Low muscle tone is a trait of Down syndrome. It affects not only gross motor skills but also chewing and swallowing food.
A very low tone Nick flopping over on his brother, Hank……
My son would not eat textured foods nor would he walk until he was nearly 4 years old. All the tasks to get him there were broken down, just as Chad Hymas did. It took Nick a long time to become independent with dressing, brushing his teeth and shaving. But he has hit all of those benchmark and then some.
I never imagined Nick would be able to do something like scuba diving…
Chad Hymas reminded me of something important. “Shift the focus on what I can do.” His friend and mentor, Art Berg was right, “You and I can do anything anyone else can, if you’re willing to do it differently.” As I continue to help Nick become more independent, I am going to keep Chad in mind and tackle each task one yellow hash mark at a time. That’s what is in my noggin this week.
For more information about Chad Hymas: http://www.chadhymas.com