After I had my stroke, my dad said he knew someone who overcame a disability in his life and I could do the same. He told me about his friend Jim.
My dad's friend is Jim Abbott. Jim has accomplished so much, even though he could only use one hand. Jim was a pitcher for the Angels and Yankees and even won an Olympic gold medal.
I had the opportunity to meet with Jim and ask him some questions about how it was for him growing up. He said it was hard at times, especially when he moved to a new school or neighborhood, but he said playing sports helped him to fit in.
I could sure understand that, having gone to a new school this past year. Jim started playing baseball when he was 6. He said he just had to learn to play sports in a different way, just like I have had to adjust to doing things in new ways.
He said his parents were very positive and never discouraged him from pursuing any activity as long as he did well in school. They treated him the same way as other kids' parents treated them, which helped him feel normal. His parents sound a lot like my mom and dad.
Jim is retired from baseball now but does motivational speaking and charity work. Jim is also very active with Challenger baseball. I asked him how he got involved with Challenger, and he said, "I started working with Challenger when I played for the Angels and Challenger Buddy League was just starting.
"I love the program because it allows kids of every ability to get out on the baseball diamond. I have watched or participated in games all over the United States—even on the White House lawn."
I am proud to say that my brother Michael has been a part of the Challenger Buddy program through Rancho Niguel Little League since even before I had my stroke.
Jim is an inspirational person to me. He told me he feels very fortunate to be given the ability he was given, and he feels that much more was given to him than was ever taken away. He told me to stay positive and determined and to believe that there is always a way to do something.
I am fortunate to have been able to get to know him better and to have him as a friend and role model.
To learn more about Jim go to jimabbott.info/biography.html
To learn more about the Challenger baseball program, go to littleleague.org/learn/about/divisions/challenger.htm.
To learn about Rancho Niguel little League Challenger division go to rnllbaseball.org/home/challenger.html