Tag: Inspiration

Reduced To Her Knees, Marathoner Hyvon Ngetich Refuses to Stop, Finishes Race In a Crawl (VIDEO)

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After showing herself to be in the elite class of female runners at the Austin Marathon, Kenyan Hyvon Ngetich hit the wall — hard. She didn’t win, despite leading for most of the day. But the way Ngetich finished the race is being celebrated, because she did it by crawling, refusing to quit.

Her fortitude paid off: Even though she crept to the finish line, Ngetich finished third, with a time of 3:04:02.68.

As the crowd realized what was happening in front of them — that the race’s former leader was refusing to be put in a wheelchair that organizers brought out onto the course, and she was insisting on finishing under her own power — they cheered her on.

“Running, always, you have to keep going, going,” Ngetich told local TV station KEYE after the race. She said that she doesn’t recall the final 2 kilometers of the marathon or crossing the finish line.


Ngetich accomplished her feat Saturday. But her story is still making headlines today and being cited as an inspiration, as more and more people discuss the elite runner who finished a marathon on all fours.

“I’ve seen athletes wobble and fall; I’ve seen athletes crawl across the finish line,” Austin Marathon Race Director Jon Conley told CBS News Monday. “But that story of her going 26 miles, and then crawling the last 450 feet or so — never seen anything like it.”

The women’s winner was Cynthia Jerop, who finished in 2:54:21.78. Ngetich finished some 10 minutes later — and just three seconds shy of second place. But after her display of will, Conley and the Austin Marathon adjusted Ngetich’s prize money to equal that of the second-place finisher.

article by Bill Chappell via npr.org

90-Year-Old Kenyan Woman Priscilla Sitienei Goes To School, Learns To Read And Write Alongside Great-Great-Grandkids

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A 90-year-old woman is going to school to learn skills that she never had the opportunity to acquire when she was younger.

Priscilla Sitienei has been attending Leaders Vision Preparatory School in her village of Ndalat, Kenya, for the past five years according to BBC News. Sitienei didn’t have the chance to learn how to read and write, but is finally doing so now.

The 90-year-old, who goes to school with six of great-great-grandchildren, says she has some big goals.

I’d like to be able to read the Bible,” Sitienei, whose classmates are between the ages of 11 and 14, told BBC News. “I also want to inspire children to get an education.”

Sitienei’s school day is just like any other student’s at the prep school, BBC News reported. She wears the school uniform to classes, and takes math, English, physical education, dance, drama and singing. She also lives in one of the campus dormitories, where she rooms with one of her great-great-grandchildren.

Her commitment to learning has made her a role model for the students.

Gogo has been a blessing to this school, she has been a motivator to all the pupils,” David Kinyanjui, the school’s principal, told BBC News, using Sitinei’s nickname which means “grandmother” in the local Kalenjin language. “She is loved by every pupil, they all want to learn and play with her.”

The 90-year-old, who served as a midwife in her village for several decades, wants her story to spur others to take another chance at getting an education.

Continue reading “90-Year-Old Kenyan Woman Priscilla Sitienei Goes To School, Learns To Read And Write Alongside Great-Great-Grandkids”

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguar Red Bryant Tackles Learning Disabilities By Sharing his Story with Students

Jacksonville Jaguar Red Bryant Speaking to R.L. Brown Elementary School’s GRASP Choice Academy
Jacksonville Jaguar Red Bryant speaking to R.L. Brown Elementary School’s GRASP Choice Academy

Red Bryant is giving back in the best way possible… a meaningful one. The Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end is speaking to students not about his battles on the football field, but about his personal battle with dyslexia (a medical condition that causes difficulty in language processing and reading), inspiring and empowering students with learning disabilities along the way.

Diagnosed by the third grade, Red had to overcome his own frustrations and challenges as a student to make it to college and eventually the NFL.  Fortunately for Red he had a mentor in his high school teacher, Sue Brooks.  Sue played a pivotal role in Red’s life and was one of the first people that helped him realize just because he learned differently didn’t mean he was not intelligent.  It’s a powerful message that children and adults with learning disabilities need to hear.  He shared this message when he visited students at R.L. Brown Elementary School’s GRASP Choice Academy, a program in the Duval County school system that focuses on children with learning disabilities. Red spoke about his personal challenges with dyslexia.

“I just wanted to let these kids know that it’s okay to learn differently and that just because you’re a different learner than everyone else, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t smart,”  Bryant said.

He feels that this program in the Duval County school system is giving children the necessary tools to be successful in the classroom.

Bryant’s own connection to the education system runs deep. Sue Brooks had an incredible impact on his life and now he is giving back.  The story is a fascinating one.  When one person takes the time and energy to lift, push, encourage and nurture a child the effects can be life altering and astounding.  Sue and Red had a bond that led her to help him not only during the recruitment process, but with getting to college and the ACT test.  Sue figured out a way to verbally administer the test by getting the clearance to read it to him after several traditional tests had negative results that weren’t indicative of Red’s academic prowess.  She was an integral part of Red’s success and always encouraging education and inspiring him to pay it forward.

Bryant plans on making frequent stops by the classrooms to monitor the children’s progression throughout the school year.

To watch the engaging Red Bryant speaking to students, click here:


Did you know….

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability and that one in five people suffer from it. Learn more:


For more information about the GRASP Choice Academy program:


by Lesa Lakin GBN Lifestyle/Sports Editor
by Lesa Lakin
GBN Lifestyle/Sports Editor


Justus Uwayesu, Who Lived in a Rwandan Dump after Being Orphaned by Genocide, Earns Full Scholarship at Harvard

Justus Uwayesu, rescued at 9 from the streets of Rwanda, is enrolled as a freshman at Harvard. (IAN THOMAS JANSEN-LONNQUIST FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

BOSTON — Nine years old and orphaned by ethnic genocide, he was living in a burned-out car in a Rwandan garbage dump where he scavenged for food and clothes. Daytimes, he was a street beggar. He had not bathed in more than a year.When an American charity worker, Clare Effiong, visited the dump one Sunday, other children scattered. Filthy and hungry, Justus Uwayesu stayed put, and she asked him why.

“I want to go to school,” he replied.

Well, he got his wish.

This autumn, Mr. Uwayesu enrolled as a freshman at Harvard University on a full-scholarship, studying math, economics and human rights, and aiming for an advanced science degree. Now about 22 — his birthday is unknown — he could be, in jeans, a sweater and sneakers, just another of the 1,667 first-year students here.
Continue reading “Justus Uwayesu, Who Lived in a Rwandan Dump after Being Orphaned by Genocide, Earns Full Scholarship at Harvard”

67 Year-Old Vivian Stancil Becomes Swim Champ after Weight-Loss Ultimatum from Doctor (and Despite Her Blindness)

Seventeen years ago, her doctor’s words shook her like an earthquake: “If you don’t lose weight, you won’t get to your 60th birthday.”

Vivian Stancil, a retired Long Beach school teacher, was 50. She stood 5 feet tall and weighed 319 pounds.

“A bowling ball wouldn’t even describe what I was,” Stancil says. “I could barely walk. But I wanted to live, so I instantly knew what I had to do: change my diet and start exercising.”

That would not be easy. Stancil’s social life revolved around going out to eat every day with her friends. As for exercise, Stancil hadn’t done it in 40 years — ever, really. She not only didn’t know how to swim but was so afraid of water that she couldn’t dunk her head in past her eyes.

On top of that, she was legally blind.

Nearly two decades later, at 67, Stancil not only lived but became one of the country’s most honored age-group Senior Olympics swimmers, with 176 medals. In June, 1976 Olympic gold-medal swimmer John Naber presented her with the prestigious Personal Best Award, given once a year to the senior athlete who best helps to spread the word about health and wellness.

Circumstances made Stancil an unlikely role model. Stancil and her three siblings were separated and placed in foster homes when both parents had died by the time she was 7. At 16, pressured into a marriage by her cash-strapped foster parents, Stancil had two children and began slowly losing her sight because of an inherited condition called retinitis pigmentosa. Divorced at 20 and raising the kids alone on welfare, she survived a self-described “two-year pity party,” got married and divorced again, and started working as a Head Start preschool teacher in her late 20s. That would prove to be her salvation.

She earned a two-year degree in early education, married for the third and final time, to an usher at her church named Turner Stancil, and went on to get a bachelor’s degree from La Verne College. For the next decade, as her eyesight deteriorated, she was the first and only blind teacher in the Riverside and Long Beach school districts. She retired early in her late 40s.

“I did not lose weight with that,” she says with a laugh. “I’d carry pliers to loosen the wires or just drink protein shakes — lots of them.”

Stancil did not laugh, however, several days after she turned 50, when her doctor told her the party was over. “The next day, I broke the news to the Eating Club: ‘I love you all, but you’re killing me. ‘So this is goodbye. But before I go, I need your help: What sport should I do?'”

The Eating Club pondered. “‘You’re too fat to run or ride a bike,’ they said,” recalls Stancil. “‘What about swimming? After all, fat floats.'”

But, determined to live, she eventually found her way to Bob Hirschhorn, an instructor at Silverado Park Pool who was well-versed in training middle-aged adults petrified of the water.

Her sight wasn’t a problem, save for her inability to see lane lines painted on the pool bottom, Hirschhorn says.

Continue reading “67 Year-Old Vivian Stancil Becomes Swim Champ after Weight-Loss Ultimatum from Doctor (and Despite Her Blindness)”

Detroit Dad Dan Davis Turns Vacant Lot Into A Play Area For Kids & Adults

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On the vacant lot next to Dan Davis’ house on Washburn in Detroit, there is a homemade movie screen, a bonfire pit, a swing set, a barbecue grill and weights for working out.

Across the street, Davis turned a stretch of lots into a go-kart track and athletic field ringed by a wall of tires.

It’s all part of his goal to transform his block on the city’s west side into a place where families can have safe fun close to home. He mows the grass up and down the street and makes sure there’s no trash on the ground.

“He’s like an icon around here. What he does for the neighborhood, people look up to him for it,” said one of his friends, Michael Knight, 51.

Detroit's Dan DavisDavis, 50, grew up in the area. As a child, he was always cleaning or fixing things. His mother made him clean up trash outside their house.

Inspired by an outdoor movie screen he saw at Campus Martius Park, Davis decided to build his own, using sheets of wood spray-painted white that he positioned on top of a metal stand. On warm nights, his neighbors gather around on lawn chairs as Davis uses a projector to play kid-friendly movies and music videos.

“Everybody comes out, about 10 to 15 people. … and then some people, they just sit on their porch and watch it, and it’s all good. It’s beautiful, lovely,” he said.

The same field holds a bench-press, dumbbells and a mirror. A few feet away sits a play set and swings. Basketballs and toys are scattered on the ground, and there is a sand pit for playing horseshoes.

Continue reading “Detroit Dad Dan Davis Turns Vacant Lot Into A Play Area For Kids & Adults”

Sara Gibbs, a Nurse Who Adopted Baby Left On A Doorstep, Sends Her to College 18 Years Later

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Thinking she’d never become a mom, single nurse Sara Gibbs decided to adopt the newborn girl abandoned on the doorstep of a Corinth, Mississippi, doctor’s office. Eighteen years later, Gibbs is sending her adoptive daughter, Janessa, to college.

“I was single. I worked night shift. I worked 12-hour-nights,” says Gibbs. “There was nothing in my life that had prepared me for a baby.”

Gibbs says she wasn’t even on the schedule for work that day, but she was called in and among one of the first responders.  “I feel like it was divine intervention, it had to be, because I wasn’t even supposed to be there,” she says.

But with help from her pastor and her hospital friends, she found the courage to adopt Janessa.  “She always tells me that whoever my mother is did it for her,” Janessa says.  “She’s the best mom ever,” she adds of Gibbs. “She’s always been my mom.”

Janessa heads to college in the fall.

To see video of this story, click here.

article by Teronda Seymore via clutchmagonline.com

Inspiring Teen Rapper Jeff Mortimer Who Won’t Let Cancer Hold Him Back Earns Record Deal With Sony

Jeff Mortimer

This talented teen doesn’t let anything hold him back from pursuing his dreams, not even a deadly disease.

Jeff Mortimer, a 19-year-old rapper from West Palm Beach, Florida, has spindle cell sarcoma, ABC News reported. Mortimer, whose stage name is “Young Jay,” is now battling a relapse despite three years of chemotherapy. He was diagnosed when he was only 16.  But despite all the difficulties he faces, Mortimer has reason to celebrate: Last week, he signed a record deal with Sony.

Even before his big break, Mortimer used his talent for music to inspire others. He writes and produces uplifting music for other sick kids, Click2Houston reported.  “I’m not scared of anything. I just have a positive mind,” he told the outlet. “Life is too short, can’t stay sad all day.”

The talented teen will continue treatment but with a more mobile form of chemo so that he can tour, ABC reported. Mortimer’s smiling face and positive attitude is sure to serve as an inspiration to others, and a reminder to follow your dreams.

When doors are open you have to take them,” he told the outlet, “because you never know when you’re going to see them again.”

To see video of this incredible young man, click here.

article by Melissa McGlensey via huffingtonpost.com

Gabourey Sidibe’s Speech On Confidence Is Incredibly Moving


We’re just going to say it: Gabourey Sidibe is awesome.

She’s made to put up with a lot, but she doesn’t let the haters get her down. Not anymore.

Once again, the 30-year-old actress proved why she’s one of the strongest women in Hollywood with a powerful and moving speech about confidence at the Gloria Awards and Gala in New York City on May 1.

Sidibe opened by declaring that she loathes questions about the source of her confidence.

“I hate that,” Sidibe told the crowd. “I always wonder if that’s the first thing they ask Rihanna when they meet her. ‘RiRi! How are you so confident?’ Nope. No. No. But me? They ask me with that same incredulous disbelief every single time. ‘You seem so confident! How is that?'”

After telling a story about the cruelty of children and the importance of thinking highly of yourself, she circled back:

“Gabourey, how are you so confident?” It’s not easy. It’s hard to get dressed up for award shows and red carpets when I know I will be made fun of because of my weight. There’s always a big chance if I wear purple, I will be compared to Barney. If I wear white, a frozen turkey. And if I wear red, that picture of Kool-Aid that says, “Oh, yeah!” Twitter will blow up with nasty comments about how the recent earthquake was caused by me running to a hot dog cart or something. And “Diet or Die?” [She gives the finger to that] This is what I deal with every time I put on a dress. This is what I deal with every time someone takes a picture of me. Sometimes when I’m being interviewed by a fashion reporter, I can see it in her eyes, “How is she getting away with this? Why is she so confident? How does she deal with that body? Oh my God, I’m going to catch fat!”

The former “American Horror Story” star went on to say that every day she went to school, people made fun of her, and that she had to go home to a place where everyone made fun of her as well. But when she moved in with her aunt, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, whom she described as a “feminist, an activist, and a lifelong friend of Gloria Steinem,” a portrait of her aunt and Steinem together gave her hope and strength.

The actress closed out her speech returning again to the question of confidence — something she hopefully won’t have to address again.

“How are you so confident?” “I’m an asshole!” Okay? It’s my good time, and my good life, despite what you think of me. I live my life, because I dare. I dare to show up when everyone else might hide their faces and hide their bodies in shame. I show up because I’m an asshole, and I want to have a good time. And my mother and my father love me. They wanted the best life for me, and they didn’t know how to verbalize it. And I get it. I really do. They were better parents to me than they had themselves. I’m grateful to them, and to my fifth grade class, because if they hadn’t made me cry, I wouldn’t be able to cry on cue now. [Dabs tears] If I hadn’t been told I was garbage, I wouldn’t have learned how to show people I’m talented. And if everyone had always laughed at my jokes, I wouldn’t have figured out how to be so funny. If they hadn’t told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty. And if they hadn’t tried to break me down, I wouldn’t know that I’m unbreakable. [Dabs tears] So when you ask me how I’m so confident, I know what you’re really asking me: how could someone like me be confident? Go ask Rihanna, asshole!”

To read Sidibe’s entire speech, head over to Vulture.

article by Stephanie Marcus via huffingtonpost.com

From Janitor to Principal: Gabe Sonnier’s Story of Perserverance

Principal Joseph Sonnier (Port Barre Elementary website)

Joseph “Gabe” Sonnier is now the principal at the Louisiana elementary school where he served as a janitor for 27 years.  Sonnier had been working at Port Barre Elementary for over 30 years when he was selected as their new principal last November.  He originally began his college education at Southern University, The Advocate reports, but dropped out in 1979 after one year to help support his mother and four siblings.

The inspiration to complete his education degree came in 1985, when the principal at the time approached him about becoming a teacher, reports CBS.  The former custodian began studying in his free time and working towards his degree, which he earned and began teaching in 2008, according to The Advocate. Sonnier continued his education and completed his masters degree through Arkansas State University.

The newly appointed principal recognizes his accomplishments, and even still cleans his own office.  “Don’t let your situation that you’re in now define what you’re going to become later,” Sonnier told CBS. “I always tell them it’s not where you start, it’s how you finish.”

article by Carrie Healey via thegrio.com