When Grant Forrester was fifteen months old, he was riding in the back seat of his parents’ car strapped into his car seat – they believed that’s what saved his life. During the car crash, Grant was ejected from the car. His scull was crushed with spinal damage, and at that moment he became at quadriplegic.
Now, this past July 14th, 2011 at age 25, Grant walked the furthest distance of his life. He participated in the Traverse City, MI National Cherry Festival 5k. He walked 3.1 miles in 3 hours 57 minutes, aided by a device called a gate walker, his mother, girl friend, and physical therapist, as well as a bunch of friends – all the people he loved. This walk didn’t just happen…he trained for this event. In addition to this incredible accomplishment, Grant lost over 40lbs while training for his 5k goal.
I met Grant at the Grand Traverse Resort in Michigan this August. I was speaking at the kick-off of the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District for the 2011-2012 school year. I spoke to this same crazy, fun loving, group of educators about six years ago, so I had a little idea of what I was getting into.
Everything changed when the ISD decided to honor Grand Forrester for his accomplishment at this year’s kick-off. Just before I was to speak, they showed a video of his 5K walk with music in the back ground, and the level of emotions rocketed. The video ended with Grant wheeling into the room to a standing ovation and lots of tears. The Superintendent, Mike Hills, said a few words about Grant, honored him with a plaque, and then introduced me. I immediately thanked Grant for wrecking my show, and all he had to do was just show up! He thought that was pretty funny.
I talked with Grant after my program and asked him what he would want me to pass on to others. He said, “Don’t use the words “I can’t” or “I can,” just say, “I will.”
So, I will tell others of his story. I will keep in mind that lots of people have difficulty living life every day, yet they persevere every day. My soul is drawn to stories of people like Grant Forester who remind me…..I need to say “I will.”