June 1

The Only Disability In Life Is…

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Jon Morrow certainly knows how to write a good story. He’s one of the best around and in his article On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas manages to wring all sorts of emotion out of you.

At first glance it appears to be a story about disability, bad luck, heart-ache and heart-break. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is an inspirational story of the ​highest order.

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In The Beginning...

You see, Jon was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (a form of Muscular Dystrophy) when he was one year old. The prognosis was that he wouldn’t reach his third birthday.

 

Over My Dead Body!

 

His mother Pat refused to accept the prognosis and, doing what all good mothers do, she fought with every fibre of her being to not just keep him alive, but to give him a life worth living.

She slept in a chair beside him in the hospital and percussed his back and chest every 2 hours to loosen the mucus.

She fought tooth and nail to make sure that Jon had a place in school (remember that back in the '80s disability was a bit of a taboo subject and discriminated against far more than it is today).

She arranged for local college students to help with Jon’s homework when he could no longer pick up a pencil.

 

For Mrs Morrow, barriers were meant to be demolished…

​We All Need Heroes

Mrs Morrow is an amazing woman. Some would say she’s a hero.

She would say that she was just doing her job – fighting for her child. Every minute of every day.

I empathise with this part of the story because there’s an amazing woman in my life too. My Auntie Sheila. She was – and still is – a very formidable lady.

Her son (my cousin) Andrew was also born with a form of Muscular Dystrophy.

Andrew was diagnosed at an early age and became permanently confined to a wheelchair by the time he was 6 years old.

From diagnosis his mother fought with every ounce for his rights to a fulfilling life.

His passion was football, but in those days wheelchairs weren’t allowed in football stadia.

 

Well, that would just have to change wouldn’t it…

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​The Best Football Club in the World

She wrote to the late, great Don Revie – manager of (arguably) the best club side in the world at the time, Leeds United – and told him to...

 

Change The Rules!

 

Not only did he do so, but he invited many other wheelchair users to Leeds United matches, and before home games all the wheelchairs were lined up at the exit of the players’ tunnel.

On running out for the match each of the home players – legendary footballers including Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer, Johnny Giles, Eddie Gray – would touch each of the wheelchairs for luck on their way out of the tunnel.

And there was no more queuing for tickets. For years Leeds United managers personally mailed Andrew his tickets before each home game, and he was treated like a VIP at every match.

On 6th May 1972, Leeds United ran out to play the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, a stadium which had previously had no wheelchair access… until 6th May 1972.

When they had reached the final, my Auntie went to buy tickets and was told that wheelchair access to the stadium wasn’t possible.

 

Excuse me? Not possible? I don’t think so! 

​The Royal Box

She kicked up such a fuss that although there wasn’t time to install ramps, lifts and the like, they figured out that there was a way that he could go and watch the match.

Just one.

Wheelchairs could reach the Royal Box without needing special arrangements.

My cousin – Andrew James Hurst – watched the 1972 FA Cup Final from the Royal Box with the Royals. He was the first wheelchair user to watch a match at Wembley Stadium, and still the only wheelchair user to watch from the Royal Box.

​Hollywood Royalty

On the morning of the match they were approaching the stadium when a rather small guy was waving and shouting to them from some way off in the distance.

‘Hello, hello…’ he called as he ran towards them.

‘Are we meeting somebody, Mam?’.

‘Not as far as I know Andrew’.

As the small figure got closer they recognised him. Sir Richard Attenborough – president of Muscular Dystrophy UK was frantically waving and gesticulating to them.

‘I’ve been asked to be your guide for the day’, he said breathlessly as he reached them.

Over the course of the day he explained to my Auntie that she’d achieved in one day what he’d been trying to do for years – get wheelchair access to Wembley Stadium – and he was rather in awe at what she’d managed to do.

 

These are the things that you can achieve when you fight!

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​Inner Strength

My Auntie was – and still is – a fighter and got rules and laws changed. Mrs Morrow likewise.

Although Andrew died shortly before reaching his 18th birthday, Jon is now into his 30s and is an inspiration to countless people across the globe – me included.

The inner strength found by Mrs Morrow through all of those years of sacrifice has left Jon with an inability to say ‘I can’t’.

So he fights. Every minute of every day. Just like his mother has taught him.

​Purpose

​The story of this blog post is about fighting ​for a purpose in life, and there are 3 things that you need for this:

  • A life of enjoyment
  • ​A life of engagement
  • ​A meaningful life

Is there a rule, a law or an over-officious zealot with a clip-board blocking your righteous campaign?

Or maybe a coronavirus!

Then find a way around or through.

Is your campaign not getting the attention that it deserves? Then how about lobbying other influential people at work and ​amongst social media power users?

Ask for help.

Not because you deserve it, but because you know in your bones that ​your cause is a good one.

Find the inner strength to achieve.


Achieve whatever you set your sights on. 

​The Only Disability in Life is...

​​​​​​If you want to succeed, you can’t wait for the world to give you attention.

You have breathed life into your campaign, just like a protective mother, and you now have to fight with everything you have to make sure that that life becomes something beautiful.

The only disability in life is a bad attitude, and the only thing in your way is YOU!

So the next time you do something worth doing, ask yourself:

 

How hard am I prepared to fight for its right to live, breathe and flourish? 

​Recommended Reading

Below are a few books that I highly recommend reading.

Check them out, and if there are any similar books that you recommend, let me know in the comments below and I'll add them.

Who knows? Maybe in time we'll have a whole library here!

And yes - they are big, fat, hairy scary affiliate links...


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    • Thank you Ashley – I’m pleased you like it.

      I showed it to my Auntie – the one mentioned in the article – and she didn’t stop crying for 2 days!

    • I’m glad you liked it Chris, I’ve been itching to tell this story for years and I’m pleased to be able to get it out there. There’s plenty for us all to aspire to in there…

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