the power of determination

THE country schoolhouse was heated by an old- 
fashioned coal stove. An eight-year-old boy had 
the job of coming to school early each day to start 
the fire and warm the room before everybody arrived. 

One morning they arrived to find the schoolhouse in flames. 
They dragged the unconscious boy out of the flaming building. 
He had major burns over the lower half of his body and was 
taken to a nearby hospital. From his bed the dreadfully burned, 
semi-conscious boy faintly heard the doctor talking to his 
mother that her son would surely die – which was for the best, really – 
for the fire had devastated the lower half of his body. 

But the brave boy made up his mind that he would survive. 
Somehow, to the amazement of doctors, he did survive. 
Again the doctor told his mother that since the fire had
almost destroyed the lower part of his body, he was doomed to 
be a lifetime cripple with no use at all of his lower limbs. 

Once more the brave boy made up his mind that he would walk. 
But unfortunately from the waist down, he had no motor ability. 
Every day his mother would massage his little legs, but there 
was no feeling, no control, nothing. Yet his determination was 
as strong as ever. One sunny day, his mother wheeled his 
wheelchair out to get some fresh air. Instead of sitting there, 
he threw himself from the chair. He pulled himself across the grass, 
dragging his legs behind him. With great effort, he raised himself 
up on the fence. Then, stake by stake, he began dragging himself 
along the fence and resolved that he would walk. 

Glenn would throw himself off his wheelchair and pull his body 
across the yard and along a fence. He started to do this every day 
until he wore a smooth path all around the yard beside the fence. 
Ultimately through his daily massages, his iron persistence and 
his resolute determination, he did develop the ability to stand up, 
then to walk haltingly, then to walk by himself. Twenty-two months 
later, he took his first steps and through sheer determination, 
learned to run. He began to walk to school, then to run to school,

 to run for the sheer joy of running. Later in college, 
he made the track team. Still later in Madison Square Garden this 
young man who was not expected to survive, who would surely never walk – 
this determined young man, Dr Glenn Cunningham, ran the 
world’s fastest mile! On June 16, 1934, Glenn Cunningham 
ran the mile in 4:06.8 minutes and broke the world record. 
His effort portrays that whatever you want to create in your 
life is yours for the making. The only one that can put limits 
on our personal will is ourselves.