I literally was a Seahawks fan from day one. When I was eleven years old I had the opportunity to witness their first preseason game. On August 1, 1976 I saw Seattle fall in love with their brand new team. Later on during that same season I had the chance to meet Steve Largent and Jim Zorn in the span of about six months. Little did I know, those would be life changing moments in many ways. It's at this point that I turn to another essay that I wrote five years ago to illustrate how we all have the choice to embrace these life changing moments. This essay appeared, in the book entitled, Don't Miss Your Boat: Living Your Life With Purpose in the Real World. The words are as true today, as when I first penned them...
Nobody Who Rides a New York Subway Has Anything on Me!
At some point along the way, people ask their own version of the question, “What is the purpose for my life?”
I asked myself that question approximately six years ago. My search for the answer opened the door for me to discover the essence of who I am, forever changing the way I view myself and live my life.
My life has been filled with challenges. I was born with Spastic Diplegia, a form of Cerebral Palsy that causes a disability that affects my motor skills and coordination. While each of us has unique challenges and circumstances that are beyond our control, I have come to see that how I respond to those challenges is what makes the difference for me. I choose to focus on what I CAN DO rather than on my limitations, an attitude that has taken some time to develop.
One such opportunity came at age eight when I experienced one of the saddest days in my life. It was an ordinary day in Seattle when my mom told me I would never play football, a reminder that I was not a ‘normal’ guy. Or was I?
The overcast weather that day seemed to settle in my soul. What I could not yet envision was how my passion for the game and my unique talents would allow me to ‘play’ in a different way than I had imagined. As a kid, I began to create my own sports casts and broadcast them through the microphone of a small stereo during game time. I loved sports and my knowledge level wasn’t far behind the fulltime announcers. I taught myself how to write articles. I began to slowly realize that my limitations could actually open doors of opportunity. Imagine how our lives would change if we lived that truth every day!
I eventually became a Sports Columnist for the Issaquah Press during high school. I never played football, but I did make it to the NFL as a reporter for Seahawks Saturday.
Those early years held many reminders that I wasn’t exactly like everyone else, and I mistakenly took that to mean that I was inferior in some way. I had trouble seeing my value. Despite many successes (my marriage, an exciting job, and good friends), I still felt a void until I began to see myself as God intended, a whole, unique man gifted for a specific purpose.
My key mistake up until this point in life was consulting everyone and everything except God, the One who knew me best of all. I heard that if you want to learn about a work of art you must consult the artist. I chose to believe that I was one of His masterpieces, so I opened my mind and heart to all He had for me … and the understanding, contentment and the new beginnings began to fill my life immediately. I live by the message of Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Jesus Christ to do good works...” I needed to stop questioning and start living!
Today, I am a freelance sports reporter. It is my responsibility to find, develop, and sell stories to various media outlets. I love the challenges associated with my line of work. Living well with my disability has enhanced my skills as a freelance reporter. It has given me the ability to develop focus, persistence, a competitive edge, and an ability to see a unique story in every person. I have been privileged to interview some of sport’s elite such as Steve Young, Michael Jordan, and even Dennis Rodman. My sixteen year history as an integral part of the Seahawks press team has afforded me some awesome experiences and has gained me the respect of the athletes and coaches alike. I enjoy a personal relationship with Coach Mike Holmgren of the Seahawks, reminding me that I am valued and have a positive impact on the team. Athletes, as well as individuals affected by disability, can accomplish tremendous things when they set their hearts and minds to it.
Since I use a wheelchair for mobility, even the process of simply showing up for work is challenging for me. Perseverance has become a great companion in my life. It takes me two bus rides and a long arduous ‘push’ through the rowdy crowd to finally make it to the press box on game day at Qwest Field. The agility that it takes to maneuver this chair through the crowd surely requires the skill of an athlete. Nobody who rides a New York Subway has anything on me!
The close of the game leads me on another adventure as I head down to the locker room for interviews. Wedging a wheelchair into the ideal spot to get an interview with the key players of the day can be a bit demanding, but well worth the effort. That is a great life lesson … the worthwhile things in life often require a bit of effort and perseverance.
Today, I continue my work with the Seahawks. I also have had my own segment on their official show, Seahawks Saturday. I believe the impact is high when people see me talking about football from my wheelchair. My message is for everyone to pursue your passions with excellence. No disability or challenge can stand in the way unless you allow it to.
This isn’t an idealistic theory but an objective reality, as God gave me the privilege of experiencing a trip to Athens to attend the XXII Paralympic Games as a member of the broadcast team for 2KPlus Sports Media International. Significant work, international travel, and a life full of purpose; this is the life God has honored me with. He longs to do the same for you. Open your heart to the possibilities, pursue your passions, recognize your unique value and live a life of gratitude and service. Stop questioning and start living! If you remember anything I have written on these pages, let it be that your life and what you are created to do and be truly has an extraordinary purpose. Living my life with that purpose continues to go on today whether it's covering the NFC Championship Game, or also covering Super Bowl XL in Detroit or sharing these very words with Seahawk players during their chapel Service prior to the season opener against the Lions in 2006. It is because of all this that I know becoming a Seahawks fan can be a life changing moment in many ways.