Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Never Give Up

The life of Bill Demby, a veteran, amputee, shows what determination and hard work can lead to. On March 26, 1971, a Vietcong rocket blew up the truck he was driving. The 20-year-old Army private never saw it coming. Demby saw his left leg on the floor. He was helicoptered to the hospital and with his left leg already severed below the knee, doctors amputated his right leg after seeing that his foot had been so badly crushed it made his leg useless. Once he got home he spent a year at the Walter Reed Army hospital, and when he left, began drinking heavily. Sports became Demby's rehab and he eventually learned to ski and took up wheelchair basketball. Eighteen years after Bill had his accident, while wearing artificial legs attached just above his knees, Bill became one of the best-known basketball players in the U.S. He was the star of a striking Du Pont TV commercial that shows him holding his own in a game with nonhandicapped players on a New York City court. In addition to this he holds national amputee records in the shot-put, javelin and discus. I am proud to say that about ten years ago, Bill Demby was the speaker at the graduation here at SUNY Cortland. He has spoken several times on campus and even holds an honorary degree from Cortland.  I will tell the story of Bill Demby to my future students to inspire them and to teach them that no matter what life throws at you, there is always a way to overcome any obstacle.

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