LA Bittersweet

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

The ocean sparkled as we gazed out from the Huntington Beach pier. We could see surfers among the breakers. A flood of memories filled my soul; it was a bittersweet moment. “Girls, this is where my life both ended and began,” I said.

Some months ago, I received a call from a gentleman named Ed who coordinates conferences for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. To my surprise, he had been using my short promotional video as a motivational tool for LA officers. “Your video has made more of an impact on their attitudes than anything else, particularly because of your motto ‘I’m paralyzed from the neck down, what’s your excuse?” he told me. I was flattered to hear that, of course. His encouraging words came at a much needed time.

During our conversation, Ed extended an invitation to me to present to the Sheriff’s Department in person. A bonus being that it was during Summer Break so I would be able to bring my two daughters along.

We were greeted warmly by a group of officers and administration after driving for 40 minutes in heavy Los Angeles traffic. With all eyes on me and the cameras rolling, I felt instantly accepted. I was presenting to individuals who have seen some of life’s worst circumstances.

I told my stories, focusing on purpose, perspective, potential, planning, and lots of persistence. I wrapped up my speech by emphasizing that in the midst of life’s darkest moments, we still have control of our attitude. I challenged them, along with myself, to get better and not bitter. I closed by inviting my girls to come forward for a question and answer session. They, of course, stole the show. The conference ended with laughter and a sense of hope.

During lunch with a few officers and their family, I noticed that one young man hugging a young girl that I learned was his sister. I was so taken by it that I said, “You must really love her.” “Yes, she and my mom were the only things that got me through the five years I spent fighting overseas. I realized how many things I took for granted.” He replied. I told him what a blessing he was and thanked him for his service and asked “Is there anything that you want to share with me?” He stared right into my eyes as if he was waiting for that question. He stammered through his tears, “I want to thank you, Ron. I’m not an emotional man.” I reassured him, “It’s cool and very manly to admit to emotions.” “I just want to thank you for demonstrating with your life and your struggles. Now I, too, feel that I can proceed with confidence and hope.”

That evening, I brought the girls to Huntington Beach where I re-lived the accident. As we sat watching the sun set, I told them that I was so glad that they could see where my life abruptly changed 32 years ago. I wanted them to know that I wouldn’t change a thing about what happened that day because without the tragic accident I would not have two beautiful daughters and the experience with the LA officers.

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A thought for the day: don’t let circumstances, pain, or problems with the past destroy you. Like orange juice, some of the sweetest moments occur when our dreams are crushed. From that, something new is created. Keep believing!

To your inspiration,

Ron

You can view my presentation to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:

If you cannot see the video, please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6RCSbCy23s&feature=youtu.be

For Father’s Day

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

“I can’t imagine my son becoming paralyzed; how devastating it would be.”

This past week I have attended a few graduation ceremonies, one of which was for my nephew, Zack. Zack is the son of my little brother, Mike, the one who pulled me from the surf 34 years ago. It’s crazy; Zack is now the age I was when Mike saved my life. During the celebration, I sat watching these young men jumping into this small pool and rough-housing with one another around it. I yelled, “Be careful, don’t dive in head-first! You could end up paralyzed like me.” One of the fathers overheard me and said, “I can’t imagine my son becoming paralyzed; how devastating it would be.” We talked for awhile, and as we spoke, flashes of my father’s face went through my mind.

Ron Heagy, Sr. for 34 years has patiently cared for me; bathing, dressing, toileting, changing catheters, feeding me, hugging me, holding me through pain, trials, and tears. Even though my father and I butt heads from time to time, he continues to amaze me. Dad has always been there when I needed him and has never given up on me. He has given me much-needed support, believing in my capabilities and encouraging me to conquer seemingly impossible dreams. I have always known that no matter what, my father would do pretty much anything to ensure my health, safety and success.

Now that I’m a father to Roni, 14, and Gracie, 9, I realize how much my dad sacrificed for his family. I want to thank him for not giving up and being there for the past 34 years of my life. He has given me the gift of true fatherhood in spite of all the trials he has endured.

Dad, I want to tell you and the world how incredibly grateful I am for giving me unconditional love. I love you, happy Father’s Day.

I challenge all of my male friends out there to say something to your father on this very special day. Statistically, fathers are not celebrated on Father’s Day in comparison to Mother’s Day. Let’s change that. God bless all of the fathers out there. You are important and this is your day. Thank you for all you do and may your heart be filled with love.

Gracie, Me, and Dad

Gracie, Me, and Dad

To your inspiration,

Ron

Reap What You Sow

This is Ron with your Motivational Message

I was working on my vineyard painting and thinking of what I could share with my friends that might be encouraging. I was hoping for a word of inspiration when it dawned on me that I had received some beautiful letters recently from a group of 8th graders. As I read through their heartfelt expressions of the impact that I had on their lives, I couldn’t help but think of you and all those who have prayed for me. It takes a team to make a dream come true, so these letters are for you, as well as myself. Oh, and by the way, they were HAND-written. Shocking, isn’t it, when most teens only text message. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough space to post all of them, but here are a few. May your heart be filled with hope.

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To your inspiration,

Ron

Please click on the images to enlarge them. The students names have been censored to protect their privacy.

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She Changed My Heart

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

“Mr. Heagy, I want to tell you that your speaking touched my life.” expressed a young lady as tears rolled down her face. I responded, “You have no idea how much you just impacted my heart.”

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Have you ever had one of those weeks where you wondered if the chaos of everyday life is really worth it? Ever feel that you try so hard and yet your soul lacks peace and your mind is clouded? I was having one of those weeks when out-of-the-blue I had an experience that broke through my mental fog.

Last Friday, I was given the unique opportunity to speak to over 500 students, grades 5 through 8, in Junction City, Oregon. It was not only hot that day, but I was running late and felt frustrated with the crazy drivers on the highway. When I arrived I had no time to prepare my mind before heading to the gymnasium. The Principal told me that I had an hour of presentation time, and my first reaction was, “You have to be kidding me.” My biggest nightmare is to lose my audience. Principal Young introduced me and I rolled out into the stuffy gymnasium full of easily unimpressed, high energy kids.

I had time for a quick prayer and asked the good Lord for some help. To my surprise, I felt clear-headed and at peace. I told all of my usual stories to the students, highlighting the importance of communication and sharing your life with others. I asked them what their emotional, educational, and relationship “wheelchairs” looked like, leaving a pause. I could sense a heavy burden that many of these children carried.

After I took the audience on an emotional rollercoaster, I ended with the hilarious story of my brother getting revenge on me one day in the mall many years ago. He had strapped a 40EE bra around my entire wheelchair as he laughed, “That’s what you get for beating me up all of those years!” The kids busted up as they applauded.

I rolled over to my display table as hundreds of kids walked past and with gratitude told me their own stories. I could write about each one, but one small girl touched me most. She had waited until everyone had exited the gym so she could speak to me. “Mr. Heagy, I wanted you to know when I was four, I had cancer and I almost died and when I heard you telling your story I decided that I wasn’t going to hide mine. I’m not afraid to talk about my cancer anymore.” The principal had overheard the conversation and approached, giving her shoulder a soft squeeze. “I didn’t even know,” he said. I reminded her how special she was and asked if I could give her a copy of my book. With a smile, she responded, “You would do that for me?” Yesterday I sent her a signed copy of my autobiography, and have not been able to get her out of my mind. I can label that experience as one of pure joy.

I encourage you if you have one of those weeks, say a quick prayer, and anticipate a life changing moment somewhere. May you have a wonderful fun-filled Memorial weekend as you reflect on the gifts that were given by those who have gone before us. May we never forget the freedom that we enjoy.

To your inspiration,

Ron

Sometimes Life Dumps on You

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

Sometimes life dumps on you and you have two choices: you can be negative or positive, bitter or better, give it up or pick it up. This was my message to nearly two hundred eighth grade students at North Albany Middle School yesterday. As I delivered my 45 minute speech, I was pleased by the attentiveness of the students as they related to my stories. I could sense their struggles as I observed their body language.

After the assembly I sat with the students to chat. The teens surrounded me with their cell phones to take “selfies” and group photos. They told me their own stories which confirmed to me, the need for encouraging presentations like mine. One young lady shared her heart and her troubles, telling me that the speech made her laugh and cry. She said, “You can ask my friends, I don’t cry.” She had identified with my statement about our “emotional wheelchairs” the most and expressed how very grateful she was for the presentation.

I left with a smile on my face, realizing that this old guy can still reach the heart of teens.

I lost my smile, however, later in the day when life dumped on me. I had taken Gracie to her gymnastics class and was sitting with the other parents when a call came in. A man was asking about my wheelchair-accessible van, which my caregiver had driven to Fred Meyer. I immediately felt anxious—what could it be? Was he calling because there was an accident? There were so many scenarios. I didn’t expect him to say what he said next, though. He had witnessed a large suitcase fall out of the trunk of my van and into the Fred Meyer parking lot and was now calling to return it to me. Luckily, the suitcase had an old airport tag on it with my address and phone number! The man was even so kind as to meet me at the building the gymnastics class was held in to drop it off. I felt so relieved. The suitcase was the one I take to speaking engagements and had hundreds of dollars of merchandise in it. It would have been a great loss.

It’s amazing how bad situations can turn around so quickly. God bless the kindness of strangers. This Good Samaritan brought the smile back to my face.

Speaking of smiles, I want to thank you, my friend, for your prayers and support. You make it possible for me to give presentations like the one at North Albany. You allow me to reach the youth in our public schools, and send a little positivity their way.

Be Positive!

Be Positive!

To your inspiration,

Ron