As a disability advocate and non-profit fundraiser, I’ve become experienced in confronting seemingly insurmountable challenges. I had to take on the establishment to fight for my son, challenging institutions, prejudices, and even government policy. And our family won that fight through many years of brave, courageous work that was also filled with joy, love, and creativity.
If there’s one lesson that I can take from my experiences to share with you today, it is just that: be brave. You may worry that you don’t have the background and the skills to make the changes that you want to make. You may be filled with self-doubt; you may even worry that no one else cares about your vision. These things can hold you back from moving forward. I raised over half-a-billion dollars for disability organizations across the country and for Opportunity Village in Las Vegas and became a motivational speaker because I pushed aside my fears and self-doubt to embrace courage, bravery and unconditional love inspired by my son.
Every day, Christopher faced serious challenges beyond disability, from his medical conditions to the unfortunate persistence of ignorance and labeling about people with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. And yet, every day, he embraced life wholeheartedly, forging forward along his own, unique path. His bravery helped to inspire my own and give me the courage to always follow my vision and go in a new direction. Bravery is a non-negotiable attribute for a successful non-profit fundraiser, author, mother, and overall human being. If you let fears overtake your mind, you’ll consistently miss out on opportunities and new adventures.
You may wonder how you can embrace the bravery that lies within yourself. One of the first steps you can take is to know that fear is Ok. If you embrace fear, you can also cast it aside and move forward with strength and conviction. You can always change your mind; don’t hold yourself back from going after your dreams just because you don’t have every step of your plan fully worked out.
At other times, you can start by faking it until you make it! And when you’re inspired by a real vision and hope for the future, you will make it. I never expected to inspire anyone! But I was brave, and I’m still on the grand adventure that came because of it.
Embrace your inner bravery and become a dynamo for change; I’m confident that it’s all inside you!