Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Our Worlds United – www.ourworldsunited.org

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

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Hi All

I have not being posting on this site for quite some time! The reason being that myself and Audrey are planning a new and exciting event to be held in the Phoenix Park on Saturday 8th September 2012.

This will be a festival and grand
celebration of disability in Ireland and the World. The venue is already booked
for that day.

We will host this event in conjunction with all of the
organisations in Ireland that act as advocates for people with disabilities and
the event is called
Our Worlds United. Over 40
organisations have already
‘signed up’ to be part of this event
including Down Syndrome Ireland, Special Olympics Ireland and Fragile X.

The Dublin
event will  cater for
100,000
people in the Phoenix Park


The objectives of
the event are many with the key objectives being:

1. To raise Awareness of Disabilities and their issues.


2.       To
Unite
all the Disability  representative bodies for 1 day with one voice.


3.       To ‘
Normalise’ or ‘mainstream’ disability i.e.  people’s special needs should
not define them

We expect
that it will be a day to remember and a defining moment in the history of Disabilities Advocacy.

The afternoon will  host live bands (we hope to get some or all of the
following: Boyzone, Westlife, Jedward, U2) , funfairs, face painting, music,
dance and games. It will also feature Speakers and contributors from around the
globe , and celebrity actor Colin Farrell
has already agreed to be our Keynote Speaker.



Fingal Community TV (FCTV) are making a documentary about the making of the
event – and filming has already begun.

But it gets even
better!
– we have spoken with Vicki Graff and Gregory
Ruzzin-both of whom are professors at Loyola Marymount University in Los
Angeles –and they suggested that we run simultaneous events in LA, South
Africa, Hong Kong, UK and Finland. Vicki has already said it will happen in LA
and is confident that South Africa will also happen. It will be truly a Global Event.


Although there is a time difference we can synchronise a huge fire works
display simultaneously around the globe at a certain time – albeit it will be
the middle of the night for some venue/venues.

The event will be the culmination of a massive media campaign across all media
channels over the next 8 months.


We have already recruited a ‘small army’ of volunteers to help make this event
happen and we have an experienced  professional event management company
in place to deliver the day in conjunction with ourselves.

Please visit our website www.ourworldsunited.org for further details.

We are currently securing financial backing for the event – and once this has been secured we can go public with the event- hopefully in the next few weeks.

If you or your organisation would like to get involved in any way with this initiative – we would be delighted to hear from you – as this is a huge undertaking and we will need as much input as possible from volunteers.


We hope that you will all attend the event – as ticket prices will be affordable – and it is not a fund raiser – but an AWARENESS raiser!


I’m 8, I’ve got spina bifida and I can do everything…!

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Shane Barker won’t let his illness slow him down, says Celine Naughton

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For someone who just turned eight this month, Shane Barker has packed a lot into his life so far.

He’s had his photo printed on a commemorative stamp, is featured in a glossy book called Extraordinary Lives and on St Patrick’s Day, he went off to Áras an Uachtaráin to meet the President. Not bad for a boy whom doctors presumed at birth was “unlikely to have a very good quality of life”.

“Looking at him now, happy and healthy and always in the thick of things, I think how wrong it was to say that,” says his mum Theresa. She clearly remembers the shock of being told eight years ago that the baby she was carrying had spina bifida, a condition in which the spinal column fails to form properly.

Instead of taking her baby home, Theresa had to spend the first three months visiting him in hospital as he underwent delicate surgery to correct the defect.

“I’d be with Shane in Crumlin Hospital during the day and at night I’d come home and express milk with a picture of him in front of me,” she says. “The first few weeks were traumatic, but as his progress continued, my husband Nick and I decided to be positive and get on with our lives.”

And that positivity has continued unabated as Theresa embraced a ‘Yes, we can’ attitude years before Barack Obama made it a global catchphrase. Now Shane enjoys a quality of life equal to that of his brother Adam (9) and sister Grace (4).

He is in second class in the local Educate Together primary school where his favourite subjects are art and music. He’s a Bon Jovi and Jedward fan, supports Aston Villa, goes swimming twice a week, plays basketball and is learning to play the piano. He also plays goalie or referee with Adam and their friends on a large green area in front of their house.

“I try to instil a ‘can do’ attitude in Shane,” says Theresa and turning to her beautiful boy adds, “What do I always tell you — you can do anything but . . .”

“. . . I might just do it in a different way,” says Shane, moving effortlessly from his wheelchair to the sofa in their home in Donabate, Co Dublin.

“I want Shane to be on top of his game,” adds Theresa. “There are times when onlookers might wonder why on earth I won’t get the chair for him if he’s using his crutches to climb a few steps, for instance, but I know he can do it and I want him to know that he can, so I’ll stand back and say, ‘You’re nearly there!'”

During a spelling test at school, Shane was asked to incorporate the word ‘mother’ into a sentence and he wrote, “My mother is strict.”

“I thought, ‘Oh my God!’ But I drive him on because I always have the endgame in sight,” says Theresa. “I want him to have the same quality of life as other people and I hope that even if he doesn’t see it that way now, he’ll understand and benefit in the long term.”

It’s not always easy. So far he has had six operations to correct some of the effects of the condition and has borne each one with stoic fortitude. Occasionally, he has said he wishes he could walk — and even then the Barker family positivity has kicked in as his brother Adam replied, “But Shane, you’re much better at swimming than I am — and you never have to queue at DisneyWorld!”

This extraordinary family have shone their light beyond their own hall door too. In an inspired initiative, Theresa gathered a number of old wheelchairs from the Swifts Sports Club run by the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) and gave them to the school.

“It gives other children a chance to feel what it’s like to be in a wheelchair and Shane doesn’t feel like the odd one out,” says Theresa. The wheelchairs proved so popular, there’s now a rotation system in place and children have to request a tag to use one. “The Wheelchair Association has been fantastic,” she says. “It’s a marvellous support for us as parents and when we take Shane to sporting or other events run by the association, he sees older people in wheelchairs driving their own cars and leading independent lives and they are great role models for him.”

The future is full of hope for this remarkable boy who wants to be a policeman when he grows up and a grandad by the age of 58.

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” says his mum. Nor any of us.

– Celine Naughton

Taken from Irish Independent Tues march 22nd

Meeting My Special Needs!

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

When I began my daycare business 12 years ago, I didn’t think about ever having children with special needs. But now I wonder how empty all of our lives would be without Sydney and Darby. They have filled my special needs by giving me a loving hand, a willing spirit, and a thankful heart.

Sydney came to us four years ago with mild to moderate spastic diplegia. As a newly diagnosed 14-month-old, we had only a few instructions on what she needed to work on to develop her muscles. Since then she’s had botox shots in both legs, and more recently, a rhizotomy. Sydney’s physical therapist, Sharon, comes to the daycare once a week so I can learn what Sydney needs to work on. We have fun making the tasks into games or contests. Now that Sydney is 5, it’s easy to motivate her by simply telling her that an exercise will help her toward her goal: walking independently

Darby is now 4 and has mild autism. She came to us via a referral from Sydney’s mom. She has hypotonia and is developmentally delayed. It’s been a thrill to see her develop her language skills in the three years that she’s been here. Her social skills are a little slower coming, but with the therapy she receives at the preschool, she’s growing into a little socialite! She loves the other kids here and knows each child by name. She’s learned to play more gently with the others and can now color a page without getting frustrated by the task.

Both girls need some special considerations to accommodate their special needs, but among my goals with every child is to prepare them for school, where they will be expected to be fairly self-sufficient, social, and disciplined. Most important, I want them to know that they are loved for who they are, not for what they can or cannot do.

The highlight of any day with my special needs kids is watching the other kids interact with them. Because the older ones have known both girls for so long, they don’t seem to notice that they are what the world might call “different.” They accept Sydney’s walker as a necessary extension of her and bring it to her without being prompted. They know to be patient with Darby and kindly tell her not to “hit, just pat” the other kids. Both of the girls will work extra hard if they know that the other kids are watching and cheering them on. They are accepted for who they are, without prejudice. That lesson will stay with all of them for life.

When daycare providers turn down families with special needs kids, I believe it is out of a lack of experience working with special needs kids. Many people focus too much on the disability and not enough on the child. However, if you are a daycare provider and you can’t see the child first, and love that child, then turn down the family! Children should be with people who want to care for them in a loving environment.

Darby and Sydney have taught me and our daycare family that everyone, and no one, has a disability.We ar all just a little bit different from one another, and I guess that means each of us has a “special need”!

Submitted by Patty Strother

From the website: www.cerebralpasy.org

VerbalVictor app for iPhone, iPad helps disabled communicate

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

VerbalVictor

Victor Pauca will have plenty of presents to unwrap on Christmas, but the 5-year-old resident of Winston-Salem, N.C., has already received the best gift he’ll get this year — the ability to communicate.

Victor has a rare genetic disorder that delays development of a number of skills, including speech. To help him and others with disabilities, his father, Paul, and some of his students at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem have created an application for the iPhone and iPad that turns their touch screens into communication tools.

The VerbalVictor app allows parents and caregivers to take pictures and record phrases to go with them. These become onscreen buttons that Victor touches when he wants to communicate. A picture of the backyard, for example, can be accompanied by a recording of a sentence like “I want to go outside and play.” When Victor touches it, his parents or teachers know what he wants to do.

The app could be for sale for $10 in Apple Inc.‘s iTunes store as early as next week.

Victor’s mother, Theresa, said VerbalVictor is invaluable because it “opens up his mind to us, because he can show us what he’s thinking.”

The genetic disorder that Victor has, Pitt-Hopkins syndrome, has been found in only about 50 other people in the nation. The ailment causes delays in cognitive abilities, motor skills, social development and language skills. Victor’s progress, in many ways, has been good — he could walk at age 2, whereas some children with the condition can’t walk until they’re 10 or older.

The Paucas tried a number of communication devices designed to help people with similar disabilities. But they were either too low-tech to be practical — one of them used paper printouts — or expensive, costing nearly $10,000.

Paul Pauca, a computer science professor, decided that he and some of his students could do better. Starting in January, they worked to create an app that would use the versatility of the Apple devices to make communication easier.

Because the hardware already existed, and the work was done as part of a class, there were essentially no direct costs of development. The prototype was done by late spring.

“We’re not a big-budget operation, and that allows us to sell it for $10,” said Tommy Guy, one of Pauca’s students and now a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto.

Jim Tobias, president of consulting firm Inclusive Technologies and an expert on disability-accessible technology, points out that VerbalVictor takes advantage of general-purpose, mass-market gadgets that cost hundreds of dollars rather than thousands.

People who already own an iPhone or iPad need to pay only $10 more for the app, “instead of taking a risk with $1,000” with specialized machines, said Tobias, who is not involved with the project.


Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Thoughts From the Middle of the Night

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Last week Brendan O Connor wrote an article in the Irish Sunday Independent about his experiences when his daughter Mary was born. Mary has Down Syndrome. It was a powerful piece – very raw- and I have been thinking about what he wrote all week. The article below is not unlike his – but just a few years on!

Thoughts From the Middle of the Night

When my son was born and I was told he had Down syndrome, I did not cry for a long time. But when I saw a girl walking hand in hand with her little brother to the viewing window of the hospital nursery, I could not hold back my tears. I knew my daughter would never walk with her little brother that way. I knew he would never experience the small pleasures of life I always took for granted.

In those minutes my heart was broken and I was overcome with sadness for both my children. Now, almost six years later, I am filled with pity for the misinformed, heartbroken woman who sat crying in that cold hospital corridor, without hopes, dreams, or fight in her. She was wrong about so many things. That part of me continues to be reeducated: I am grateful for every new lesson I learn.

I am thankful to that woman. She found she did have some fight in her. She was not the first mother to fall in love with her newly-diagnosed child. She learned of brave and stubborn mothers who put themselves forward in the media to spread a message of hope. She let the memories of those mothers stir her into action. I shall always revere the mothers and fathers who reached out a hand, and who built a foundation of support, information, and resources for women like me to draw upon. What they did for their children transformed my son’s life. They continue, still looking forward, always reaching back to help others.

I still reach back to the woman I was. I hold her gently and wish that in her grief she could hear me. “It’s not like that. Please don’t lose yourself in that sadness. Hold on, wait and see. So much of that grief is over things that are just not true.” I know she has to sit there crying, and I don’t know how long. I will wait with her and be a friend. My son will be six years old in a month. His sister is seven and a half. When they are not arguing ferociously or ignoring one another, as siblings do, they are the best of friends. They help one another scheme, and protect each other from harm. Both have argued seriously how life for the whole family would be better if the other disappeared, leaving an “only child.” Each misses the other when they are separated overnight. I rarely think about the sister and brother walking toward the nursery viewing window, but sometimes when I see my two walking hand in hand down the beach or up a hiking trail, I think of the poor, sad woman I was that day.

I can’t imagine life without my son. Sometimes when he barrels into my bedroom early Saturday morning to tell me a great cartoon is on, I wonder what life would be like without little boys. But I get up, and find he has quite good taste in cartoons. I think of him in his preschool days, chin raised in pride over some fabulous work of art, like the turkey he pasted up when he was three. I remember him seeing his good buddy from class, Terrell, at a school carnival, and how their eyes met. They squealed in unison and ran to one another like sweethearts in a perfume commercial.

I enjoy the story his teacher relayed to me about how, during a cookie-baking class, he slyly nibbled his chocolate chips instead of saving them for the cookie. I am glad every day to have this son. The world is a better place with him in it. My son is not a Down Syndrome “superstar,” but I wanted him to have the experience of a regular kindergarten. He loves school and has a wonderful teacher. His classmates are charming and funny and bright. But I was afraid of their parents. My son has missed some fine opportunities because many people are as inexperienced and uninformed as I was six years ago. I believe he needs an edge before he can participate successfully in mainstream activities, and that edge is casual acceptance. Last night was parent night at my son’s kindergarten class. I was overwhelmed by the relaxed but purposeful way different parents let me know that they accept my son simply as a child in the kindergarten class. Their hands reach back to comfort the heartbroken woman in the hospital corridor. They comfort her in ways that I cannot. I thank every person who has brought us all this far. Thank you so much.

 

Pamela Wilson
BellaOnline’s Special Needs Children Editor

All it takes is one Person!

Friday, August 13th, 2010

 

Eunice-Kennedy-Shri_650642t

 

I AM honoured to see every day how Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s work continues to transform the lives of millions of people with intellectual disabilities, and their families.

This week last year the world lost a remarkable woman and a dear friend of Ireland in Eunice.

On the first anniversary of her passing tomorrow, it is fitting to honour her and to celebrate her lasting legacy.

Deeply inspired by the struggle of her own sister Rosemary, she set out 42 years ago with one vision: a world in which people with intellectual disabilities are fully integrated into society.

The Special Olympics has grown from that day to what it is today — a global movement of 3.5 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities through sport. In Europe/Eurasia, there are 500,000 athletes across 58 countries.

Her passion for the Special Olympics movement she founded is one that happily coincided with her great love for Ireland.

It was here in 2003 that the world games were first held outside the United States. It was a great gift to Ireland and seven years on the effect of those games on the nation is still fresh in our hearts and minds.

Through the common and simple vehicle of sport, Special Olympics is helping to bring about attitudinal change in the way people with intellectual disabilities view themselves and are viewed and treated by others, replacing misunderstanding and fear with respect, acceptance and inclusion.

Communities, sponsors, volunteers, coaches, spectators, journalists and all those who have been embraced by Special Olympics athletes find that the experience opens their eyes and minds and changes their lives forever.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver leaves this profound and lasting legacy on the world. Not only has Special Olympics changed millions of lives but it has a real impact beyond sport, helping shape public policy and effect social change.

I know I speak for everyone at Special Olympics Europe/ Eurasia when I say we are committed to working tirelessly to continue her work and to bring her powerful vision to life; to change the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, using sport as the catalyst for respect, acceptance and inclusion.

This year is an exciting one for Special Olympics. Next month, we will celebrate the 2010 Special Olympics European Games in Warsaw, Poland, and in June 2011 we will celebrate the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Greece.

Both events will provide strong platforms to raise awareness of our movement and showcase the abilities and spirit of our athletes. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a frequent visitor to games and competitions in Europe/Eurasia, inspiring us all with her energy, her unfailing commitment and, above all, her enormous love for the athletes.

While the World Summer Games take place every four years and the European/ Regional Games take place every two years, it is important to be aware that Special Olympics happens every day with more than 30,000 competitions taking place year round in communities worldwide.

I believe the world right now is hungry for what we have at Special Olympics.

Everywhere you look, people are hungry for authenticity. There is a crisis in trust everywhere. People are asking: how can I make a difference and feel a part of something bigger?

At Special Olympics we are uniters. Our athlete, family and volunteer stories inspire, entertain, energise, change attitudes and break down barriers to inclusion and friendships.

Corporations sponsor Special Olympics because they share our brand values and our programmes touch so many people so positively.

Funding is always an issue for us and we continually seek new corporate partnerships to support our mission and continue Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s vision.

Last year the European Commission made an unprecedented commitment to Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia by granting €6m .

This much-needed funding allowed us to empower, through sports, more and more people with intellectual disabilities across Europe, while also changing attitudes and creating a more inclusive and accepting world for all of us.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver devoted her life to fighting for the rights of those with intellectual disabilities. She opened her home, she coached and above all, she was a friend. She demonstrated an indomitable spirit in action.

The first ever Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day (EKS Day) will take place on September 25 this year. Hundreds of events will happen around the world, including Ireland, to celebrate her life and impact and to encourage new fans of Special Olympics.

The Shriver family hopes EKS Day will become an annual event across the globe. To quote Tim Shriver, CEO of Special Olympics International and son of Eunice: “I cannot think of a more fitting way to celebrate my mother’s life and legacy than to encourage acts of volunteerism that will teach people to see their peers with intellectual disabilities as classmates, teammates, colleagues, friends and most importantly, as equals. Ultimately, I hope that this day will put us one step closer to the world she envisioned.”

Eunice Kennedy Shriver was an outstanding leader in the worldwide struggle to improve and enhance the lives of people with intellectual disability.

Tomorrow, I ask you to remember this remarkable woman on the first anniversary of her death and embrace the Special Olympics movement she founded so that every person with intellectual disabilities is accepted and included in society without fail.

Mary Davis is managing director of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia

– Mary Davis

Irish Independent 10th August 2010

Five Novels That Treat People With Special Needs With Respect

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Five Novels That Treat People With Special Needs With Respect

My older daughter has cerebral palsy, and living with her over the past 19 years has given me a sensitive gag reflex for the way people with special needs are portrayed in Hollywood movies. Novelists — not surprisingly — handle these characters with considerably more depth and complexity. Here’s a list of five novels for which I’m particularly grateful.

1. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (2008).
This enormous debut novel had already been on the bestseller list for months when Oprah chose it last week for her popular book club. And what an excellent choice it is. Loosely based on Hamlet, this tender and suspenseful story is about a mute boy and his special breed of eerily aware dogs in a small Wisconsin town. Some of the most enchanting moments describe the private sign language Edgar has developed to communicate with people and animals.

2. Up High in the Trees, by Kiara Brinkman (2007).
I know people raved about Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, but to me its depiction of autism relied on too many savant parlor tricks. I prefer this heartbreaking story of a little boy with Asperger’s syndrome. His family is struggling to function in the months after his mother’s death. Some sections are almost too emotionally painful to read.

Deafening.jpeg3. Deafening, by Frances Itani (2003).
The heroine of this Canadian novel loses her hearing as a child in the early 20th century, but a sharp-eyed grandmother intervenes and makes sure she gets the education she deserves. Later, her love affair with a soldier sent to fight in WWI is portrayed from both sides: his hell in Europe, her worry at home. It’s bracing, romantic and captivating.

4. The Center of Everything, by Laura Moriarty (2003).
Ten-year-old Evelyn Bucknow tells this sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, always insightful story about life with her welfare mother in a small Midwestern town. The title comes from the pastor at Evelyn’s church, and some of the best lines are Evelyn’s reflections on God and religion. When her ner’-do-well mom gives birth to a baby with special needs, their little family finds new reservoirs of patience and affection.

Lamb in Love.jpeg5. Lamb in Love, by Carrie Brown (1999).
My favorite romantic comedy is about an English postmaster, 55-years-old, who falls in love for the first time with an equally inexperienced woman. She’s the full-time nanny for a profoundly disabled man, and the three of them make a thoroughly charming little group in this novel that you cannot help but love.

Of course, these books are very different from one another, with lots to enjoy and appreciate, but one of the things I like about them all is the way they fluidly integrate people with special needs into their stories without sentimentality, pity or romanticism. Someday I hope life will imitate art.

By Ron Charles |  September 25, 2008; 7:00 AM ET

Taken From Washington Post

Facing Death, Student With Special Needs Completes Master’s Thesis on Accessible Housing

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Joshua Winhelde_picIt is well known that people with special needs can accomplish amazing things despite their so-called disabilities. But in the annals of such heroics, a special place must be reserved for Joshua A. Winheld.


On February 5, 2010, Winheld was awarded a Master of Arts degree in urban studies from Temple University in Philadelphia. For his thesis, he explored factors preventing local real estate developers from building more housing that is accessible to people with physical disabilities. Accessible housing was a subject that had interested Winheld since the age of 10, when he was forced into a wheelchair by Duchenne muscular dystrophy.


As his thesis neared completion in fall 2009, Winheld was working against increasing physical limitations. “When you have Duchenne’s, you can never be sure when your condition will worsen and in what ways,” Winheld once wrote on his ever-upbeat blog. In Winheld’s case, he now required constant nursing care and he was dependent on a ventilator, exhausted by debilitating cardiac medications, and susceptible to shocks from an implanted heart defibrillator. Six years before, in fact, Winheld had abandoned all hopes of earning his master’s degree and had withdrawn from school. But in 2008 he summoned the energy to reenroll and resume his studies in the subject he loved.


As Winheld typed his final thesis revisions in early November 2009, he used a computer that he controlled with head movements. It was the same way that several years earlier he had painstakingly keyed all 75,000 words of his autobiography, Worth the Ride: My Journey with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (iUniverse, 2009).
After putting the finishing touches on his thesis, Winheld triumphantly wrote on his blog, “With a deadline looming and on the verge of exhaustion, nothing was going to stop me. If only for a moment, I was able to recapture some of my old magic, pushing myself every time I wanted to take a break. Just after midnight, I submitted my paper.”


The thesis was accepted and Winheld was awarded his master’s degree along with other graduates at a diploma ceremony in February, but Winheld was not there to receive it. On December 5, 2009, less than a month after he had submitted the paper, Josh Winheld died at age 31. Completing the thesis “was a final herculean achievement in a short life that, by all accounts, was defined by accomplishment, grit, and wit,” the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote in its obituary.


Winheld’s thesis, titled “Housing Accessibility: The Role and Perspective of Developers in Philadelphia,” included some surprising findings. His research revealed that real estate developers may not be as antagonistic as is often thought toward making housing accessible to those with disabilities. But he also learned that the developers he interviewed do not feel a moral obligation to make private spaces accessible and that they have a hard time accepting, or even comprehending, the concept of “universal design,” where all structures are made accessible to as many different types of users as possible. Winheld offered some recommendations for shifting developers’ views, including seminars for housing professionals and “giving those in the development industry the opportunity to temporarily experience having a disability, as is done in college classes and medical schools.”


“My hope is that by [my] talking to these developers,” Winheld explained on his blog, “advocates for those with disabilities will be better able to understand the development process and can bring about a better housing situation for people with disabilities in Philadelphia, more than a quarter of whom live in poverty and many of whom are aging.”
Winheld’s thesis advisor, Prof. Carolyn Adams, delivered the principal address at the ceremony where Winheld received his posthumous degree.


“If Josh were here today,” Adams told the new graduates, “he would offer this bit of advice to his classmates: Once you have set your goal and chosen your path, never, ever, give up.  Let that piece of advice be a gift to you from your classmate.”

 

 

 What an inspiration- and what a tough life- but a fabulous legacy “Josh never gave up, as long as he lived”- may he Rest In Peace!