After my second Olympic Games, I was invited to visit several children’s hospitals. I still remember my first tour of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital just outside Boston. As an Olympian, I couldn’t wait to inspire the young patients. I wanted to do more to raise their hopes than any celebrity they had ever met.
I was handed a mask as staff there explained the children’s vulnerability to germs and diseases. Then I walked from room to room, activity to activity and conversation to conversation, expecting to find a bunch of somber faces. But a somber face was the one thing I couldn’t find. These children had the most amazing outlook on life, though many weren’t expected to make it through the year. They had all gained a new perspective on life, and weren’t going to let the adversity of ill health take away the time they had here.
I’d met everyone from celebrities to Olympians to the president of the United States, but I walked out of that hospital feeling more inspired by those children than by anyone I had ever met before. Since that day, I visit children’s hospitals and cancer wards every chance I get, and never cease to be inspired.
A few years later, I met a snowboarder named Chris Klug. I didn’t know anything about Chris’s background, but, as with the children, I was immediately drawn to his spirit. I soon learned why…
(Story from When Turtles Fly: Secrets of Successful People Who Know How to Stick Their Necks Out)
Weird numbers? What did the doctor mean when he said that my physical was showing some “weird numbers”? I was a world-class athlete. World-class athletes didn’t have “weird numbers”…did they?
I’d been snowboarding on the World Cup circuit for a while and was feeling perfectly healthy when the doctors told me I had primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC. They didn’t know if it would be in one, five or ten years, but they told me I would eventually need a liver transplant.