Another 15 minutes.

Over the last few months, life’s trajectory seems to be pushing me in a direction that, while not all that unfamiliar, has still been absolutely surreal. It started right around September when a friend of mine was injured in a motorcycle accident leaving him partially paralyzed with a long, uphill battle for recovery. In the few visits we’ve shared, I’ve been able to share some wisdom from my experiences that have seemed to help. Then just after Thanksgiving, I got a phone call from a former Olympian from my hometown asking if I would speak to a committee that was putting together a fundraiser for  a 15-year-old gymnast who became paralyzed at the gym she owns ,and once again I found myself sharing a little bit of my experience, strength and hope with people in desperate need of it.

A few days later, I was contacted by a journalist in the San Francisco Bay area that was doing an investigation of safety practices in terrain parks at ski resorts similar to the one I was injured on that fateful night nine years ago. And that interview led me to a couple of amazing storytellers who shared a poignant sliver of my journey tonight on the 5 o’clock news. (See below)

And as much as I would love to write off all of these situations landing on my doorstep simultaneously as a coincidence, I can’t shake the feeling that there is a much deeper, more powerful underlying force behind it all…. Call it God, fate, or whatever you like; What it is, is my life coming full circle, and it’s time to tell my story.

I started this blog almost eight years ago thinking two things: 1) I’d never write on it and, 2) even if I did, no one would read it. Within a couple months, however, I had a few dozen posts and a cult following showing up at a rate of 25,000 or more per week offering everything from money to medical equipment to documentary deals and much more. Needless to say, I was nowhere near prepared for the attention it garnered, and I somehow twisted the overwhelming outpouring of love and support into this self-imposed pressure to be some some larger-than-life persona – the  prematurely downed athlete, forced to the sidelines of the game we call life and relegated to the commentator’s booth – a role I neither wanted nor could live up to, so I had to walk away.

Enter  one 5′ 7 5/8″, blue-eyed stunner from my past to show me that the only thing barring me from competition might be my unwillingness to adapt to a different place on the field; that all I truly have to do is continue to suit up and show up, and the rest will work itself out. Even though things may not have gone exactly as I hoped, I have adapted and am starting to thrive thanks to the lessons she lovingly carried me through over the two amazing years we spent together. And that, I think, is the best and probably only tribute I can truly give her; to share our story, to carry on her legacy of helping the less fortunate and, most importantly, to continue to do life the way she taught me as the man she saw I had the potential to be — the kind of man I’ve always wanted to be, the man I can feel myself slowly becoming.

This blog was featured on MSN homepage the day that Peter Jennings died, just below the main banner with a caption that read “quadriplegic seeks purpose.” As it turns out, telling my story might just be a big part of that purpose after all. What I’m learning is that the story itself buys me a captivated audience and that my voice has the power to resonate with people in all walks of life because there is a common thread within it that everyone can relate to. And while I may not be able to lift a finger, my words carry more weight than my muscles ever could.

A friend of mine always says that when the universe calls, it’s best to pick up the phone. With the afterglow of the recent 15 minutes of limelight already starting to fade, I can hear a faint ringing somewhere in the recesses of my mind, so I’m thinking I should probably answer… but if it’s turns out to be a telemarketer, I’m going to be pissed. Where’s caller ID when you really need it!?! All jokes aside, I think it’s time to listen quietly to what the voice says and head in whichever direction it points me, because I have a feeling I’m headed there no matter what.

Comments

  1. Glad to see you’re blogging again! I’ve kept up with you through facebook…thought about and prayed for you often. Always loved reading your words Kenny…your voice is definitely one the world needs to hear:)

  2. Bud and Elly Street says:

    Kenny, that was soo beautiful to read. I know Kristen is looking down watching how beautiful you are “Doing Life”. You are a great guy, with SOO much talent. Keeping you in our prayers. Love you.

  3. I have followed your blog since discovering it years ago. I was saddened to see the loss of your wife and I wondered how you were doing. I am recovering from dental none grafting surgery due to a genetic condition I have. Though I have the use of my limbs I have a very small sense of what you must go through, the journey from self pity to self discovery and to love yourself and find a bigger meaning to your life. I have been asking God why I am here, with this disorder. Why do I have to go through this pain? But God is using my writing to reach others, many have it worse than I. Yet I can still be a beacon of hope. Thank you for using your situation to reach others and for not giving up. If you ever get a chance, look up the Australian man born without any limbs who became Christian and teaches others about his story. He once thought his life had no meaning and he is now married, teaching around the world. He inspires me like you do. I hope I get to hear you speak someday, giving hope and light to others. Be blessed! Your life is a gift.

    • Thanks Beth! I have seen videos of the guy you speak of… He is awesome! Best of luck in all your battles… Though life is full of struggles, it is most definitely worth doing… HUGS

  4. I saw the piece this morning. It was fantastic- truly. How proud she must be that the love you shared is keeping you strong & you are doing life. Maybe God shared her with you to give you back your strength & direction- hope we continue to hear more from you…. I always love hearing your thoughts!
    Hope to see you soon!
    Xoxo

    • More than strength & direction… She gave me back the one thing I never thought I’d see again… Me.

      Pretty sure I’m on the books to come see you sometime next month! Love ya, lady!

  5. Paul's mom says:

    I am so glad to see you write again. So many people have missed you . . . I wish you the best in your new journey.

  6. Kenny I have been reading your blog since I saw it featured on MSN. I am so glad you are writing again! I have missed you and I am just so happy:) Thank you Kenny!

  7. Hey brother. My grandfolks told me about your news spotlight. I got online to check it out. I love you man. You are the only man besides my grandfather I look up to. You are an incredible person…I’ve always thought so…even in college when I’d cheat off you in EE classes. 😉 Lets do a better job of keeping in touch ok.? Love, Presleigh

    • Wouldn’t be who I am without you, Mark… And that’s the truth. Thanks for perpetually having my back, even when I sucked at calling… Well, worse than I do now. 🙂 Love you, pal!

  8. Kennny thanks for your encouagement and support even if I am just a “poser”. Thanks for you words of wisdom at PT and showing up last Saturday. Hope all is well. Andy

  9. I linked here through Jennifer when I heard she was writing again too. I’m having flashbacks of MSN spaces… although, personally, my public blogging days are over 🙂 Very touching story and she sounded amazing. I think we’ve all changed somewhat since we all “met” from your blog. Good luck to you in the direction you’re headed!

  10. Sarah mathew says:

    I am one of your cult groupies. Have checked in here monthly through the years, and even contacted your sister through face book to see how u were doing. I am hoping when you pick up the phone it is someone offering a book screenplay deal…….your story needs to be shared. You have helped so many people without even knowing it. Glad u r back, and that u r doing just what Kristen said, do life…..I am inspired by u both…..thanks, Sarah

  11. You no doubt get alot of mails from strangers….like me. I have read your blog since inception, when you went dark I still checked now and again. When you got married I was so happy and when you lost your love so sad for you and yet you still are able to inspire and make me understand commitment and challenge. You are truly an inspiration Kenny. Thanks so much for picking up the blog again.

  12. Hi Kenny, I followed you initially, missed you when you stopped blogging and am glad to see you back at it. I’ve enjoyed your “voice” via the blog and your perspective.Wishing you all the best as you move forward.I can’t wait to see where the universe takes you.

  13. hi Kenny,
    when i first found out about you, i told my mom “the Universe (i don’t call it God) has a great plan with this guy, hope he finds out what it is” and translated some of your words for her. i couldn’t believe how well you wrote and hoped you’d realise it one day, too, and never give up. my motto is that everything happens for a reason. now i am back reading your blog again and i am overwhelmingly happy you came across the plan finally. and unknowingly, i am truly proud of you. we are all here to shed the light, and you are exceptional. and so was Kristen whose task was to help you find your plan. your contract, i should say. keep it up. write. do life.

    with utmost respect from the other side of the globe,

  14. I have had your blog in my list of ‘favorites’ from the beginning, but I’m sorry to say that I stopped checking it a few years ago when you took a break from updating. I hoped you were doing well, but figured you had moved on to other things. Imagine my surprise as I decided to ‘clean out’ my favorites today and found your new posts. I smiled broadly and cried deeply as I read about your lovely bride. I am thrilled for the happiness you found with your beloved and crushed by your loss. Many blessings to you and for the purpose you have found in your life. I am sure there are many other ‘strangers’ like me in the world who will never meet you in person, but will forever appreciate your gift for expressing yourself through the written word.

  15. Kenny I hope you are doing well and write soon. I was so happy when you started writing again. I have been reading your blog since msn.

  16. I stumbled across your blog years ago….almost from the beginning, and have been “lurking” since. I cannot describe to you (as I do not have your gift of words), just how much of an impact you have made on my outlook of life. While we all have our issues, it’s the way you respond to them that makes you who you are. Thank you for your honesty and humility over the years. I was elated, then saddened, when I saw your last few posts. I’m so glad that you have returned to grace us with your words, but terribly saddened by your loss. As you well know, just keep keeping on, “do life.” Great motto – It’s all any of us can really do!

  17. I started following you waaaayyyyyy back when and when you stopped blogging I would check here and there – today something made me search you and I found your new blog. Glad to see you are blogging again. You are an inspiration to us all. Happy to hear you got married and found the love of your life. Saddened to hear of your loss. I can sympathize with the hole you speak of and it sucks. My brother took his life 6 weeks ago and the hole in my heart has not stopped hurting- feels like a sucker punch all day long. Taking it day by day. Some better than others. I am thrilled you are writing again and living on your own and have a service dog- that is awesome. Happy to read your words- they are always uplifting.

    • Wow… I’m so sorry for your loss. And you are absolutely right, one day at a time is the only way to survive when it comes to losses like that. Sometimes it’s one minute, and even one heartbeat at a time. Thank you for the kind words… Hoping to post an update very soon.

  18. I am so glad your story goes on. I liked reading your blog from the first time I found it on MSN. I think you were about a year into your writings when I first read your story. I am so glad and so sad to hear you had found a wonderful wife. I am sorry for your loss. While you are an inspiration to others that have disabilities, youvare as well to everyone else in this world. Your drive to move on with life, gave me a boost to move on with mine. I was a single mom of four barely making it, but I found the strength to keep going despite obstacles in my way. I’m still working hard, and will finally be going to nursing school in October 2013, after waiting for my kids to grow a little older. I have also found a great husband, who is my best friend.
    I look forward to reading more of your experiences you encounter. Just know you inspire all of us to “do life”, no matter what we have going on in our lives.

    Sheri

Trackbacks

  1. […] others could benefit from, and the question quickly flipped to “why not?” After all, my last post was about putting my story to use, right? The next thing I knew, my late spring calendar was […]

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