Monday, June 30, 2014
#mondaymotivation Wilma Rudolph
"Do you know who Wilma Rudolph is?" my personal trainer asked me as I struggled through an early run training for the 2009 Boston Marathon.
"No," I said. "I never heard of her."
"Well google her when you get home. I want you to read her story," she told me in no uncertain terms.
"Wilma Glodean Rudolph (June 23, 1940 – November 12, 1994) was an American athlete and an Olympic champion. Rudolph was considered the fastest woman in the world in the 1960s and competed in two Olympic Games, in 1956 and in 1960.
In the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Games. A track and field champion, she elevated women's track to a major presence in the United States. As a member of the black community, she is also regarded as a civil rights and women's rights pioneer. Along with other 1960 Olympic athletes such as Cassius Clay, who later became Muhammad Ali, Rudolph became an international star due to the first international television coverage of the Olympics that year.
The powerful sprinter emerged from the 1960 Rome Olympics as "The Tornado, the fastest woman on earth".
Why did my trainer refer me to Wilma Rudolph for inspiration? Because when she was four years old she contracted paralytic polio. Her mother was told she would never walk again. Then she was told she would never walk without a leg brace. With the fierceness of a mother's love and surrounded by a loving, supportive family, Wilma Rudolph came out of her leg brace. She was on the high school basketball team and ran track as something to do in the off season.
While I did not have the love and support of my mother during my recovery from paralytic polio and had the added challenge of family violence from the age of 8 until the age of 17, I had my Spirit and I had earth angels who would support me throughout my life.
Miss Holly, my physical therapist, offered me the tender love and support that a mother would offer to her own child.
I had a french teacher, Miss Dupres, who nourished me in junior high and high school. After graduating high school, and following my father's suicide on 8/1/1971, she invited me into Manhattan to meet her for lunch before I began my freshman year at Boston University. She gave me a sewing kit. She told me that no matter what life may rend apart, I would always be able to put it back together again.
After being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, Allison Lamarre-Poole came into my life. She helped me to believe that I could and would get stronger. She had enough faith for both of us until I could believe that I could heal and was not destined for a future in a wheelchair.
Then I met Janine whose first words to me after asking her if she thought I could get a little stronger were a Henry Ford quote, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right."
She could have walked away from me when I told her I wanted to run the 2009 Boston Marathon shortly after coming out of my leg brace and never having run a day in my life. But, like Wilma Rudolph's mother, she believed that I could move beyond the late effects of paralytic polio and achieve the dream that was in my heart.
It took a village to help me cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and it takes a village to support me getting back on the roads.
"No matter what accomplishments you make somebody always helps you." Wilma Rudolph
I feel blessed and grateful for the people now in my life who help me to stem the tide of a progressive neuromuscular disease and to be able to live a full, vibrant life. And thank you to Wilma Rudolph for being my inspiration as I began my running journey on the road to the Boston Marathon and beyond.
My memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" is now available on Amazon.
"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.
I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.