A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I presented on the beautiful campus at Butler University, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The theme for this event? Disable the label. It was an incredible event. Everyone that walked in was encouraged to write a “label” defining themselves and wear it like a name tag. Some of the “labels” we saw were, “anxiety”, “depression”, “ADHD”, “paranoia”, “bipolar”, “cerebral palsy”, “autism”, “learning disability”, the list goes on and on. The point is that we all have something that we feel holds us back, and whatever that something is, is not serving us. You are not a label. You are not a disability. You are a human being with significant value to share in whatever community you are a part of.
Mike and I used our relationship and the lessons we have learned along the way, to share our ideas on how they could “disable the label”. When you label someone you pre-judge, you make a conscious choice not to give that person a chance to show who he or she really are. You are cutting off the ability to know that person. Living with cerebral palsy, Mike has had to go through his share of being labeled. Whether that be a teacher who accused Mike of cheating, (he wasn’t) a student, being surprised that Mike could speak, or the pressure he felt from the higher ups to take driver’s education in high school. The labels have been there and continue to be there. Countless times when we are out to dinner, or just shopping, the waiter or waitress, salesman or saleswoman, look to me for an answer. We look at this situation as an opportunity to teach. To teach someone however small it might be, something different. Those teachable moments add up over time and little by little change occurs.
Just like our presentation at Butler University on Monday, March 21st, 2016. Over the course of 55 minutes, little by little, these students were changed. Little by little, barriers started to fall, and little by little they believed that they all had the ability to make a difference. We received a thunderous standing ovation after we concluded, but it was the smiles, and the looks of acceptance that truly were the evidence that their campus was changed.
That’s why we do what we do. We want to make a difference. We want to leave a positive impact. We want to create a ripple that spreads far and wide. Ultimately, we want to educate, to empower, and to entertain. Let’s look at each of those “E’s” for a moment.
Educate. We educate the able-bodied community about what cerebral palsy is, how it affects Mike, and the obstacles that have to be overcome. We educate what disability awareness really is. It is not about being inspired by someone living in a wheelchair, it is more about the friendship Mike and I share, in spite of the barriers that arise. We help people see the person, and not the wheelchair or disability. We choose to use the word acceptance, over the word tolerance. We see acceptance as much more a choice than tolerance.
Empower. We empower the special needs community to go after their goals and dreams, despite any disability or handicap. Mike is looked up to as a role model and someone doing something in spite of how tough it is. We empower parents to strengthen their belief and resolve, to keep going. We have heard countless stories from parents how coming to our show, or seeing us speak, has changed their outlook. How hearing our story helped them live their story.
Entertain. The best thing we do is entertain. You will not be bored when you hear our message. In fact, you will be laughing from the very start. We are never preachy. Our message is honest and real. We break down barriers using that honesty, so others can better understand. We hold nothing back and we push the envelope to help bring our message to life. We are always looking for ways to include the crowd, and we do a fair amount of improvising. Another thing that really sets our show a part is that we are constantly fine tuning and tweaking, to give the very best show possible to the audience. Whether you have seen the show multiple times or for the very first time, you will see something you have never seen before.
When you are trying to create a culture at your school, campus, or organization you need a plan. We can help be a part of that plan. We can help start the ball of change rolling. We would love to hear from you and how we can be a part of that plan. We have some ideas, having done over 150 different presentations, we can help you pull off a legendary event.
If you are serious about having Mike and I present to your group – visit this link and leave us your name, number, email, and what city and state the presentation would take place.
Rollin’ to a town near you!