Inspiration from a Teenager

The Hartford Courant recently published an essay by Justin Verrier on a Connecticut female teenage swimmer.  “After swimming laps at a recent practice in the Glastonbury High School pool, Rachel Grusse told her coach, Suzi Hoyt, her shoulder felt sore.  Hoyt responded as she always does to such concerns by her swimmers, instructing Grusse to put on flippers and ‘kick for a little while’ to rest her arms.  ‘I just looked up at her and told her, Um…I don’t think I can do that, Grusse said, smiling.”

Remember the word smiling.  When Grusse was 16 months old, it was discovered that she was born without a spleen, and she contracted a form of bacterial pneumonia that cut off the blood flow to her extremities, which resulted in the cutting off of her legs at the base of her knees, as well as the last joint of her fingers.

Now, many teenage girls with just a few pimples would hide in their bedrooms, but not Rachel.  With the help of prosthetic legs, she has participated in all types of sports, including soccer and, most recently, wheelchair basketball, but swimming is her passion.  Since she has to rely on her upper body for swimming, she does a lot of upper body strengthening, like…walking on her hands!

Her comment?  “I’ve just heard some people say that I’m an example to other kids.  But to me, I don’t feel like I’m any different.  I’m just doing what I can, and doing the best that I can.

She swims against “normal” swimmers and rarely wins, but she loves the sport anyway.

She swims against others who are disabled and often places, but not always, and she loves the sport anyway. 

Since she has no memory of having had legs, for her, it is kind of “normal” – the real amazing quality of hers is her attitude to just do what she can and do the best that she can.

Disabled or not, that is the winning attitude in life that ultimately brings you happiness.  She does what she loves and does the best she can at it.  Period.  There is a lesson in that for everyone.