I never expected to walk the path I took in life toward becoming a non-profit fundraiser, disability advocate, and motivational speaker. My life changed when my son, Christopher, entered my life. Instead of being welcomed, he was excluded, labeled, and told he was unwanted. When I looked into his eyes, watched him sleep, and held him to my chest, I knew that this little boy, just like every other child in the world, deserves justice, love, and inclusion.
The journey that I took with Christopher made me a different person. I raised over a billion dollars as a non-profit fundraiser, building an organization that changed lives and encouraged inclusive dreams and realities. Our struggle helped to make a different world for Christopher and his friends and ensured that he was able to live out his life over decades surrounded by loving family and friends who saw the great value he brought to every occasion. If I ever had doubts along this path, all I needed to do was look at this special child to regain my motivation.
Love and hope were only the beginning of this journey. We had to learn to break barriers and develop our skills to do so successfully. Here are a few essential tips that helped me to fight for and realize our dreams:
- Keep Your Purpose in Mind
Even when a great goal motivates you, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day business of life. There is always paperwork to be handled, challenging people to be dealt with, or prejudice to face down. The slog of daily work can begin to overwhelm the dreams that inspire everything you do. If you feel tired or burned out, return to your reasons for doing your work: the mission that drives you forward. When you keep your purpose in mind, you can get through frustrating times with your drive intact.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different
When Christopher was born, I had to fight an establishment that was afraid of his differences. He inspired me to look at things differently and to create places and programs that did not already exist. Change-makers are innovators and non-conformists. You know the world needs something new; don’t be afraid to embrace your differences and your unique insights. You still have a lot to learn from others, but being true to yourself is the critical ingredient in achieving your dreams.
- Take Care of Yourself
We hear so much about self-care, but it truly is important to foster the support you need to make a change. Give yourself the time to do what you need to reflect, develop, and grow. Whether that’s spending time in nature, sharing warm moments with your children, or giving yourself the space to write. Give yourself the things that reconnect your work with the mission and purpose that drives your heart.
The power and strength you need to achieve your goals is already inside you. Give yourself the nurturing you need to make it happen.
About Linda Smith
Linda Smith is a fearless and tenacious non-profit fundraiser, author and motivational speaker. She is a survivor of child abuse, a philanthropist who has raised over one billion dollars for charity, and a disability advocate inspired by her son, Christopher, who was born with Down syndrome. Her incredible journey and brave heart will be detailed in her upcoming book, Unwanted.
Contact [email protected] to connect with Linda for information regarding speaking opportunities, disability resources and Las Vegas fundraising efforts.