Many professional athletes entertain us with their strength and competitive spirit. Then, there are those who inspire us with their ability to overcome adversity. How do they manage to do it? By picking up the broken pieces and realigning them with their goals. Self-direction and desire to rebuild their lives remain the single most powerful source of personal energy. Energy enough to shift whole lives. From individual passion comes the will to persevere, to endure discomfort and even pain. Desire is sometimes more important than even talent or a healthy body.
Megan Absten was only 14 years old when her life changed forever. She lost her arm in an ATV accident. Even after 40 hours of surgery, the road to saving her arms from amputation seemed difficult. Ten days after the accident, it was a question of saving her life or her arm, and Megan's left arm was amputated. A teenager’s world just collapsed. Life is unpredictable. The worst, or what feels like the worst, can happen to the best of us.
Megan was active in athletics and wrestling before her accident. Without succumbing to the reality, she decided to pursue her love for sports and began running again. “I felt being different is like the worst thing a person could be, but I accepted what had happened to me and didn’t want something like losing my arm to get in the way of what I had planned for my life ahead. I found role models in the Paralympics athletes and seeing their success got me through my grief. Athletics gave me back my confidence. My coach told me that we were just going to feel it out and see if this was something I wanted to pursue,” she says.
Megan participated in the national Paralympics and having won a silver medal in the 100 m and 200 m, she qualified to represent the US in the Paralympic Games. Everyone encounters some hardship in their lives, but when someone with a disability is able to overcome all odds to not only survive, but to find mega success, that is an amazing thing to behold. When something difficult occurs, something else becomes possible. All of 23 years, Megan is now giving back by talking to kids with disabilities about self-acceptance. “I often forget I have one arm, even when I’m struggling with something. But I’m the one who has to live in this body. If I’m confident of the way I look and what I can do with what I have, then that's all that really matters,” she says. Megan has shown people who have all their arms, legs, hands and feet, yet sometimes become discouraged because their goals seem too difficult, that it is not your body that matters, but your heart and mind. This is the magic spell that any of us can cast, with a good dose of courage, two pinches of stubbornness, and plenty of big smiles. Shed the old you, and welcome the new you. That was then and this is now. As Mizuta Masahide, a Japanese poet and samurai said — My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.