Category Archives: Challenged America

A Man With A Vision

I want to tell you about an extraordinary man’s vision and commitment.  In this case, “vision” is figurative, because he is, quite literally, blind.

Urban Miyares is a Vietnam veteran.  At the end of a particularly horrendous firefight, he was mistakenly put into a body bag for dead.  Two days later, when the bags were opened to do identifications, a medic assistant noticed that he was not dead.  His injuries were severe, and he is now blind, but he didn’t miss a beat to stay involved in life.  He has started and operated many businesses and has always used his talents.  He didn’t “quit” on life.

Urban is the founder and director of Challenged America (www.challengedamerica.org), whose mission is to introduce sailing as a therapeutic and rehabilitative-enhancing activity to individuals with disabilities. That sounds very nice, but what put me “over the top” was his firm commitment to working only with people who are committed to being involved in work and life.  If they aren’t working or in work training, he won’t take them into the program.  He told me that the folks who just get disability and sit around are directed toward regular sailing schools.  He works hard with people who are equally committed to working hard.

That sounds more than nice.  It is brilliant.  Never be more committed to helping someone than they are committed to helping themselves!  When Urban made those pronouncements, I was all aboard with ferocious enthusiasm, as I share that philosophy and that’s why I chide so many parents and other family members for trying harder than the one they’re helping.  Continual rescues only serve to let the person they’re “helping” continue on his or her destructive path, and to assuage any feelings of guilt on the part of the helper by keeping the other afloat when that person is not even trying  to tread water.

I participated in a wonderful dinner (where I was the keynote speaker), silent auction, and regatta in support of Challenged America.   I was very proud to be part of all those events to benefit such a worthy operation.  Check them out at www.challengedamerica.org.