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Tell Your Story!

By Roger Bearup, Grandville Public Schools Superintendent

Our journey through life, including our experiences, our challenges, our successes and our failures, helps shape who we are. How we learn from these experiences and apply them to our outlook and approach toward life impact our daily living and how others see us.

I recently met a leader in a different capacity from our community. After telling him a little about me, he picked up on one small tidbit I had mentioned and asked me to tell him more. He said “I am sure that relationship and experience helped define a major part of who you are.” Boy was he right!

I began to tell him the story of my daughter Abbie, a wonderful young lady in her early 20s. Abbie began having over 100 seizures per day when she was 2 1/2 years old. Trips to the Mayo Clinic, Detroit Children’s Hospital, and the Cleveland Clinic brought a great deal of questions but very few answers regarding what Abbie was experiencing or why. To make a long journey shorter, eventually Abbie was diagnosed with a mitochondrial disease in which there is no known cure.

Abbie is severely multiply impaired now. She does not walk on her own, she does not talk, but her eyes do all of her communicating. As a father, I always thought about the things I would teach my children. Truth is, I have learned so much more from Abbie and her courageous journey than I could have ever taught her.

Some things I learned:

  1. Be present. You are only guaranteed the here and now. Live like it, and focus on even the simplest of things because they truly are a gift.
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Little things can irritate you if you let them but they are not what is really important. What is important are the loved ones and people you are around each day. They need your best. They don’t need the mediocrity you supply by sweating the small stuff!
  3. All people matter! Not just the ones who look like you, act like you or fit the “normal” mold. Appreciate the uniqueness that has been created in each individual and you will learn more than you ever imagined!

I encourage you to reflect on the different experiences and role models you’ve had in your life. Then, TELL YOUR STORY! We can all learn from one another and more importantly appreciate the facets that make up the uniqueness of the people around us!


Roger Bearup’s Blog

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