When you wake up to begin your day, it’s your choice whether or not you will have a positive or negative outlook. You may not be in the best situation, however, that does not have to dictate your attitude. Circumstances change, the unthinkable becomes thinkable, and miracles happen, but it’s up to you to believe. Realizing the gifts around you is what makes life worth living. It could be your family, career, health, or anything that you cherish. Would you consider the loss of a leg to be a gift? Jeff Glasbrenner certainly thinks it is.
I met Jeff on December 15, 2010. It was a brief introduction as he had just completed the Ironman distance in Little Rock. For you triathletes, you know there is not an Ironman in Little Rock. It was not an official race, although to Jeff his quest to complete eight Ironmans in eight months was officially over after crossing the finish line at the Capitol. He set out to do 8-in-8 as a celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of losing his right leg.
While the accident claimed my right leg, it couldn’t take away my heart.
I heard about his story from Erin and Gary at Go! Running. I had recently started running, but knew I wanted to be there to witness this event. I remember trying to run with him some, but somehow I ran all over downtown Little Rock not able to find him. Eventually, I decided I’d wait at the finish. It wasn’t until I read his book, The Gift of a Day, that I understood the magnitude of his accomplishment. Jeff has turned what the majority of people would consider a tragedy into opportunity.
A farm boy from Boscobel, Wisconsin, Jeff’s life changed on a typical July 30 day. His life would forever be different, except not in the way one would anticipate. It was a tough, trying time for his family, but they overcame it. His mother and father refused to allow him to not give his best. Jeff’s account on what his life was like is an example of his positive, intrepid attitude.
You can have the most loving, supportive people around you to help, but ultimately, it’s you that has to get up and be OK.
You’ll be fascinated to learn how triathlons came later in his life. He was hooked, like many others, by watching the Ironman World Championships on television. He figured he could do it and that he belonged there. It wasn’t until he looked into it that he discovered it wouldn’t be easy. That made him want it more. Reading about his illustrious wheelchair basketball career, where he played all over the world, makes you appreciate his work ethic and determination.
Those are the feel-good moments that warm our hearts in stories. The not-so-great moments are when disaster strikes and we have to deal with being human. We fail and come up short. Our golden dreams must be modified. We find divine Grace that lifts us. It’s then that we recognize we already have golden moments in our lives.
Each chapter is prefaced with a quote that sets the tone for the pages to come. I immersed myself in the story. Jeff took me through several mood changes. I was right there with him in the hospital. I was shouting, “Where is my Gavin!” I chuckled at times and shared in some unforgettable moments. He comments that it’s not all about him. You’ll read a heartfelt letter from someone he helped accomplish his Ironman dream.
When a woman passes a male athlete in the triathlon world, that is known as “getting chicked.” When I pass an athlete with two legs, I like to think to myself that they just “got cripped.”
I borrowed a copy of the book from a friend. She told me it was a special copy because not only had Jeff signed it, but so did his two children. She was right! Seeing their handwritten names warmed my heart. Thanks again, LT! You don’t have to be an amputee, wheelchair basketball player, or triathlete to find yourself as engrossed as I was. The only requirement is you have a heart.
I stopped by Go! Running on Saturday, March 30, 2013, to have Jeff sign a copy of his book for me. If you didn’t make it by to see him, copies are available at the store. It’s a good read and you’ll finish it inspired and ready to make the best out of any situation.
Jeff has a few more Ironmans schedule this year. After the Boston Marathon, he goes back to where he made his triathlon debut, Memphis in May Triathlon. In August, he travels to Norway for the Isklar Norsemen Xtreme Triathlon. It’s extreme because it is considered to be the ultimate triathlon on the planet. I wish him well in all of his endeavors! Join me as I’ll always rooting for Team GLAS. Continue to do what moves you, Jeff!
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