Yesterday I got a call from Lloyd Bachrach letting me know that he was giving two presentations at a school near me.
I was introduced to Lloyd about a year and a half ago and this is the first chance I had to meet him, so even though it was really short notice…I went.
And I’m so glad I did!
Lloyd is a remarkable man, full of energy. He was born with two short legs and he tells his story so well in his presentation. From what the doctors said to his parents to learning to walk to finally deciding he “wanted to be taller,” which resulted in his being fitted for prosthetic legs. The first group of kids were grades K-2 and he handled them like nobody’s business! It was funny to watch the teachers shaking their heads and making comments. “He’s in FULL control!” one of them would whisper. And he was. The second group was grades 3-5 and his presentation was a touch different, but not much. It was incredible to see how confident he was and how the kids respected him.
Lloyd spoke about his “dream-makers”: the principal who allowed him into her public school (there were no laws saying she had to at that time – pre-ADA) and his gym teacher who pushed him into sports. Lloyd participated in everything you can imagine, but ultimately became a gymnast, finishing 5th in the entire state of Illinois his senior year of high school! After that, he was a member of the US sitting volleyball team that competed in the Paralympics in Atlanta in 1996.
The kids LOVED his demonstrations. He showed how he walks in his prosthetics and without them. He showed how he runs, with his arms and legs. He also gave an incredible gymnastics demonstration! Incredibly memorable.
I really appreciated the messages he had for the kids. He spoke about where the term “handicapped” came from and why he doesn’t like it and what he prefers instead. Even the word disabled has a connotation to it that says, “You are unable.” So, he tells the kids what he prefers: Differently abled. “See how I ran? I was able to do it, I just do it a little bit different than you do,” he pointed out. Sound familiar? He also shared his keys to living successfully; to overcoming the difficulties we all face in life. Simple, clear and powerful. What also struck me was his bravery. He literally ripped his pants off in front of hundreds of kids and adults he didn’t know. He stood in front of them, proud of who he is and showed them what makes him different and how awesome it is. I loved it. If you have the chance to bring Lloyd to your school, business or whatever, I suggest you do it. Just so good.
As we were walking out together, we made our way carefully through kids playing in the gym (indoor recess). Many of them came up to him and excitedly explained that they, too, were trying to play sitting volleyball! And they gave him high-fives. And one girl gave him a big hug. As we made it out into the hall, he looked at me and said, “And that is what it’s all about.”
And I agree 100%.
To learn more about Mr. Bachrach and his program, visit the “Yes, You Can!” website!