The “American Dream”, in my opinion, is what makes the United States of America the greatest country in the world. Starting in elementary school, we are taught that no matter what your race, gender, ethnicity, culture, or disability, anything is possible. Countries around the world envy the United States for the endless opportunities that are available. The American Dream symbolizes that with hard work and determination, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. This past month, I sparked a relationship with Bonnie St. John. Despite having her right leg amputated at age five, Bonnie St. John became the first African-American ever to win medals in the Winter Olympic competition, taking home a silver & two bronze at the 1984 Winter Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria. In my humble opinion, this woman is what the “American Dream” is all about. She is not only an Olympian but a successful business woman, a woman activist, pioneer of the Paralympics, and role model to countless – including myself. In a recent interview, we shared our stories about our experiences representing our country at the Olympic and Paralympic games. I always talk about mentorship and the vision and leadership of our coach, Herb Brooks, and the influence he had on our victory in 1980. Bonnie had a slightly different story. She explained to me that in 1984, disabled sports did not have the breadth of resources the athletes enjoy today. Bonnie was on her own to organize the support she needed. She worked a variety of jobs and personally solicited sponsors to raise money so she could attend a boarding school for ski racers, travel to competitions, buy equipment, and hire private coaches to fulfill her dream of becoming an Olympian. To say her story was moving is an understatement. She represents what the “American Dream” truly means and she would stop at nothing to show the world that she could accomplish the “impossible.” She was an entrepreneurial athlete that has transcended into her successful business career.
While on the phone with Bonnie, our partnership with Numotion came up. I explained to her why our partnership meant so much to me, but how I struggled to find a way to utilize my platform as an Olympic athlete and spokesperson to further this cause. These days, people will look for reasons to criticize you for almost anything – even if we are trying to strive for the same overall objective. All I want to do is advance the conversation around CRT (complex rehab technology) because I am very passionate about the benefits and believe I can help make a difference. Bonnie gave me the best advice, she said, “Jimmy, don’t act like you’re an expert because you’re not and you’ll make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to talk about people living with a disability, it is worse when the conversation doesn’t happen because we are afraid of the outcome.” This is when a light bulb came on for me; this incredibly passionate and accomplished woman believed in me and supported my mission to help drive awareness for the CRT industry. She not only embraced my passion, but she has joined us in our mission to shift perceptions about ability and disability and drive awareness and access. She put us in touch with Paralympic athletes who have overcome mobility issues and thrived. I am so excited to share with you the upcoming blogs and their stories of what it really means to achieve the “American Dream”.