Monday, October 6

An Amazing Experience: Meeting MLB Pitcher Jim Abbott

On a recent trip to California, Drew's Dad and I met Olympic Gold Medalist and former Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Abbott. We were fortunate enough to attend a meeting my company was holding where Jim was the keynote speaker. It was such an amazing experience to listen to him speak about his ability to become a successful baseball player, against all odds.

Born without a right hand, Jim Abbott defied all of the odds to become a major league baseball pitcher. Despite being born with a disability, he truly believes that more has given to him than was ever taken away by his birth defect. He talked to our group about the need to A.D.A.P.T. in order to overcome our circumstances and achieve our goals:

  • Adjustability: Thinking of a different way to do things, given your circumstances. For Jim, he had to make adjustments just to be able to tie his shoes. For Drew, we use a food saver to water proof his cochlear implants for swimming. No matter what the circumstance, little adjustments can make just about any situation work.
  • Determination: We are constantly told about the things we can not do. If we start to believe that we can not do something, it limits our abilities. We must filter out all of the negativity in order to reach our goals.
  • Accountability: Never let the circumstances of life be an excuse for not meeting your goals. You are accountable for your actions. Have you made the most of your talents today?
  • Perseverance: At times, your goals may not seem possible. But so much is possible if you just hang on to your goal and keep working!
  • Trust: The ability to know that you are prepared and can do anything! Bring trust into every situation! You can achieve just about anything if you trust in your abilities.
During the presentation, Jim demonstrated little adaptations he had to make in order to be able not only to pitch, but field his position. He showed us how he would get his glove back on after pitching the ball, in order to field his position. In fact, I was the one that got to play catch with him during this part of the presentation! Check playing catch with a New York Yankee pitcher-that-threw-a-no-hitter off of my "to-do" list!

This presentation was designed to speak to my inner "sales representative" soul, in a time of economic strife, but instead struck special cord as a mom of a child with special needs. There were points during his presentation where I could feel myself tearing up. What did Jim's parents do to raise such a strong, secure, determined son? How had Jim handled being made fun of for being and looking different? When did Jim learn of his disability, and what did his parents tell him about it? There were so many questions that ran through my mind. I wanted to learn as much as I could from him on how I can impower Drew to be self-confidant, determined, successful and proud of being different.

Fortunately, Drew's Dad and I were able to spend a considerable amount of time one-on-one with Jim, and were able to talk about our personal situation. We asked Jim if he could give us any advice on how to empower Drew. Jim told us of his Dad, and that one of his dad's key motto's to him was "Be a leader today!" Jim's Dad talked with him each day about the choices he had to make, and that if Jim was a leader, all of his friends and classmates would follow.

Jim also spoke of how being a part of a team, as baseball provided, was a great way to help him "fit in". He strongly encouraged having Drew participate and lead in team sports, which would lead to acceptance without questioning his differences.

If you believe in yourself, nothing can stop you, and then amazing things can happen. We left with an autographed baseball: "To Drew, Anything is Possible!" Jim Abbott

***Drew's Dad here...I just wanted to add this video in case one of you hadn't heard of Jim Abbott. Enjoy!***


Laurie said...

I absolutely loved this post. What a great role model Jim Abbott is, not just for the disabled for for anyone. Yes, anything is possible if we "adapt." This should be bookmarked for everyone!

And because of you, Drew will have the confidence and tools to be all that he can be.

I'm glad that you also had some one-on-one time with Jim. Thank you for sharing this.

Shiloh said...

What an amazing experience! You are wonderful parents. Drew and his sister are lucky little kiddos!

auntangie said...

I still think it's so neat you got to play catch with him, but even neater that he signed that ball for Drew!

And I think that Drew is already showing us how confident he is in his abilities, whether it be at therapy, learning multiple new words in a day, or making 10 of 10 basketball shots and cheering for himself each time. And, also the fact that his sister proudly discusses his "ear plants" with anyone who will listen, shows him that his whole family is proud of him and the accomplishments he's already made in two short years.

I have no doubt that Drew will be able to do anything he puts his mind to - and I know that you two will make him secure enough in his abilities to want to try anything!

Anonymous said...

This post was great and it reminded me of a book I read last year titled "No Excuses" by Kyle Maynard. He was born without arms or legs and went on to become a champion wrestler. It's an excellent book for parents who are raising children with any type of disability.

I've no doubt that the two of you are naturally equipped to be exactly the type of parents that Drew needs and I also believe he'll be profoundly grateful when he's Jim Abbott's age.

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