At first, I thought I had stumbled on to the documentary by ‘accident’. I was drawn to the title because it had the words ‘legacy’ and ‘can do’ in the title. How could I resist?! 🙂
A half hour later, my perspective on a lot of things – victory, defeat, dignity, pain, healing, conventional ‘wisdom’, overcoming, love, friendship – I can go on and on, had changed for good. But let me not get ahead of myself. Let me take you back to 1964, and the Winter Olympics of Innsbruck, Austria.
Until that Olympics, the US Ski team had never won any kind of medal in Alpine skiing. Some were hard pressed to say that the ‘team’ was even a team at all. In the years and competitions leading up to those Olympics, a few young athletes, including Jimmy Heuga and Billy Kid, decided to ignore history and train the hardest they possibly could. Jimmy, at 15, was the youngest member ever to be included on the US ski team, and perhaps the shortest of them all. But he had a spark, a will, a desire to work hard, that caught the eye of his coaches – and they persisted with him on the team.
What happened in 1964, almost fifty years ago to the day, on February 9th, is history. Jimmy Heuga won Olympic bronze, and his soon to become lifelong friend, Billy Kidd, won Olympic silver in the slalom. But I don’t tell you this story to talk about their victories… It was what happened a few years later, to Jimmy Heuga, that this story, his story, is really about. At the age of 27, Jimmy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis – a condition of the nervous system which disrupts the signals that travel from the brain to different parts of our body.
And so it began. All the life principles that Jimmy had applied to the Outer Olympics, came to the fore in his Inner Olympics. An Olympics that lasted over forty years for Jimmy Heuga. An Inner Olympics in which mind, heart and spirit overcame conventional medical wisdom. His courage inspired his former teammates and ‘competitors’ to join him in his journey, to convince the medical community that they were wrong about how they were treating his ‘disease’.
For most people, being an Olympian, being an Olympic medalist, being the best skier in the world, even for a day, would be enough. But not for Jimmie. Jimmie went beyond the sport. – Billy Kidd
In the final analysis, his greatest contribution to the world, beyond what he achieved in the 1964 Olympics, was that he restored dignity and a “can do” attitude to those facing their own challenges. And that is something we can all learn from, as we engage in our own Inner Olympics. His legacy carries on, in the form of the “Can Do MS” foundation and the Jimmy Heuga Center Endowment.
Drawing inspiration from this story, I invite you to join me and the #SpiritChat community in a twitter conversation on February 16th 2014 at 9amET. I also invite you to share your favorite “Can Do” stories in the comments below, or in our Facebook group. Namaste!
Here are the questions asked during the live chat. The answers are compiled in the storify summary. A full, complete transcript is also available at the hashtracking site (1517 tweets, 231 contributors, 21.5M timeline deliveries, 1.2M reach). Enjoy!
Ready? Q1. Let us reflect on the "Can Do" spirit. What sound(s)/image(s) does that evoke for you? #spiritchat On to Q2. Think of a life event that eroded your "Can Do" spirit. How did you recover? Did you? #SpiritChat Q3. For our Inner Olympics, what practice(s) can help us strengthen our "Can Do" spirit? #SpiritChat Q4. Focusing on Dignity. What is the role of personal #dignity in our Inner growth? #SpiritChat Q5. How can our "Can Do" spirit "heal" others, restore their dignity? Or can it? #SpiritChat Q6. “Dignity doesn't consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.” - Agree or disagree? Why? #SpiritChat Q7. What is the connection between inner humility and dignity? Or is there one? #SpiritChat Q8. To those who have a "Can Do" attitude, yet seem to be 'struggling, you would say.... #SpiritChat