Archives For kevin michael connolly

Apparently, if I’m ever going to write a memoir, I need to start skiing.

Not me.

I’m currently reading Emily Rapp’s Poster Child and it’s the third memoir in a row wherein the limb-different author was some sort of champion skier.  First it was Josh Sundquist, then Kevin Michael Connolly and now Emily Rapp.  Now, to be fair, they are all missing one or both legs, so I could probably get by without skiing.  But, still…

Reading these memoirs has made me try to remember all the things I did as I was growing-up.  And the fact of the matter is…I was pretty dang normal.  I never aspired to be a champion athlete, though I played every sport imaginable.  Except soccer, which is what everyone assumes I played.  “Because you don’t need hands, ya know?” they say.  I played little league baseball and was a pitcher like my hero, Jim Abbott, but I stopped before high school.  I ran track my freshman year, but then I focused on music starting my sophomore year.  I was in choir and wind ensemble and orchestra and jazz…whatever was offered, I did it.  I played trumpet, euphonium, and the valve trombone.  Junior year I went through my drama phase, gracing the stage for a musical and a play my senior year.

I’ve been to Europe and I’ve been to Haiti.  I got married and I have three kids.  I’ve been a youth pastor and I’m currently our church’s associate pastor.  I’ve held all sorts of jobs and have lived in a few different places.


As my friend Desi said recently, “You’re just a normal guy.”

Here’s the thing I’m realizing, though: most of us are normal.  There’s a reason they’re making a movie of Kevin’s life and not mine.  He did something creative and unique!  His story should be told.  And that’s awesome.  But, I’ll admit, sometimes I get down on myself for not being more ambitious.  Like, why wasn’t I more determined to conquer everything when I was younger?  I believe I could have been a star athlete.  Or an actor.  Anything, really.  And I don’t mean for that to sound arrogant, I just really believe that when I put my mind to something I can accomplish it.  So, why didn’t I do that more when I was a kid?

I’ll tell you why I think it was.  It was because I didn’t have anything to prove.  At least I didn’t think I did.  That and I had a short attention span.  Honestly, though, you’d think I’d want to prove to everyone that I could not only do everything you two-handers could do, but I could do it better.  If I was going to Jump-Rope-For-Heart, I’d win it.  If you could win that.  I’d become a star baseball pitcher.  I’d become an actor who elicits howls of laughter or stifled sobs every time I took the stage.  Whatever it was, I’d be the best.

But it was never like that.  I did something I liked and then I moved on.  And I think that’s what most of us do.  We try things and if we like them, we keep doing them.  Most of us aren’t the best at whatever it is we like to do.  I mean, logically, only one person can be the best, so the rest of us aren’t.  And that’s fine.  We all have our own stories.  And your story is just as valid as mine or as Josh’s or as anybody’s.  Maybe our stories won’t ever be told within the pages of a book, but they will be told.  Your family, your friends, the people in your community…they’ll come to know your story.

I dare us to live a good one.

And then, to not be afraid to tell it.

If I ever meet Kevin Connolly, and I hope I do, I’ll probably stare at him.

Just being honest.

See, Kevin was born without legs.

Is that an amazing picture or what?

In his memoir, Double Take: A Memoir, one story Kevin shares is how he turned the tables on those who stared.  The idea was brilliant.  Kevin uses a skateboard to get around instead of a wheelchair or prosthetic legs, so his vantage point is unique to begin with.  At one point he became so frustrated with the staring, he decided to use his camera to stare back.  He’d skate around and, while looking the other way, he’d snap a picture of someone he could sense was staring.  The results were The Rolling Exhibition.

Double Take: A Memoir, is Kevin’s life story…even though he’s only 26 years old.  “Originally I didn’t want to write a memoir,” he says in the Epilogue.  “The genre felt too loaded for me; I whined and griped about how unqualified I was to write a retrospective on such a short life.”  I love his honesty.  And I’m glad he fought through the insecurities to write it anyway.

If you’re familiar with my blog, you know I also have experience with being stared at.  At some point or another, though, those of us with physical differences realize that our parents dealt with the staring way before we did.  This realization was powerful for Kevin.  As he showed his photos to his parents, his dad said, “We’ve been seeing that your whole life.” His dad also said it was “pretty tough to keep myself from smacking some of these folks over the years.”  A couple months ago I had a very similar conversation with my own dad.  Parents of children with obvious physical differences are a rare and inspiration breed.

Kevin also speaks to the reality of feeling “normal” only within our circle of friends.  Especially those of us with obvious physical differences.  “Unlike me, many people are able to hide their differences from the world.  Whether it’s not getting on the dance floor because you have wobbly knees or wearing turtlenecks to cover that scar on your collarbone, you can exercise some sort of control over how you are perceived by the outside world.  But the fact that I don’t have legs is pretty hard to hide.  Even if I wore prosthetics, I still couldn’t hide the fact that I’m missing these limbs.  Only when I’m inside my circle of family and friends is my disability so familiar that it’s normal,” Kevin writes.  Kevin is so right.  It stil amazes me when my family and friends say they don’t notice my arm is missing.  But, I believe them.  And I appreciate it.

Double Take: A Memoir, is a well-written, captivating story of one young man’s life so far.  Kevin’s stories about his family, his skiing experiences, his world-traveling, his love found and lost (and found and lost again), all from the unique perspective of having no legs, are powerful.  If you’re a parent or a friend of someone with a difference, you’ll love Kevin’s story.  And if you are a person with a difference, you’ll identify completely with his experience.

(Full disclosure: There’s some strong language in the book, so it really is for adults.  Pretty sure it’d be rated R if it was a movie.  Wait…can I buy the movie right to this??)

Here’s a fantastic interview with Kevin.  Also, Meredith hits on him.  Seemed more awkward than if she had just said he was an inspiration.  Anywho…