Behind every tale of incredible individual achievement stands the silhouette of the person or people who sacrificed to make that triumph possible.
Behind every Olympic figure skater is someone who got up before dawn every day to sit on a freezing wooden bench and watch a child fall on the ice. Behind every self-sufficient person with severe disabilities are numerous therapists, caregivers, trainers, and paraprofessionals. Behind every elderly person who is lucky enough to remain in his or her own home (after complications due to advancing age have made self-care impossible) is at least one self-sacrificing family member or friend.
This world-changing yet under-appreciated supporting cast is made up of heroes who give their time, talents, and resources to open up the world for others.
Yes, Helen Keller was amazing, and she was an inspiration to many people, but where would Helen have been without Anne Sullivan? Anne devoted 49 years, her entire adult life, to Helen.
Yes, it is wonderful that a young woman with severe disabilities was able to serve a mission. But her teenage sister, who gave up over a year of her life to provide extensive care and support and make that mission possible, is the one whose sacrifice staggers the imagination.
Yes, it is amazing that someone who was hit hard by polio and partially paralyzed was able to win a gold medal at the Olympics. But the incredible stamina, planning skills and selfless devotion of the person’s spouse supported that dream until it became reality.
Is there an unsung hero in your life, someone whose unselfish actions created the updraft on which you soar? Please take a moment to show them how much you appreciate them, and thank them for all they do.
As for my hero–Jim, thank you for everything you’ve done to show your support for me and for our family. I’m amazed that anyone could be as wonderful as you.