little country schoolhouse was heated by an old-fashioned,
pot-bellied coal stove. A little boy had the job of coming
to school early each day to start the fire and warm the room
before his teacher and his classmates arrived.
they arrived to find the school house engulfed in flames.
They dragged the unconscious little boy out of the flaming
building more dead than alive. He had major burns over the
lower half of his body and was taken to the nearby county
bed the dreadfully burned, semi-conscious little boy faintly
heard the doctor talking to his mother. The doctor told his
mother that her son would surely die - which was for the best,
really - for the terrible fire had devastated the lower half
of his body.
brave boy didnt want to die. He made up his mind that
he would survive. Somehow, to the amazement of the physician,
he did survive. When the mortal danger was past, he again
heard the doctor and his mother speaking quietly. The mother
was told that since the fire had destroyed so much flesh in
the lower part of his body, it would almost be better if he
had died, since he was doomed to be a lifetime cripple with
no use at all of his lower limbs.
the brave boy made up his mind. He would not be a cripple.
He would walk. But unfortunately from the waist down, he had
no motor ability. His thin legs just dangled there, all but
he was released from the hospital. Every day his mother would
massage his little legs, but there was no feeling, no control,
nothing. Yet his determination that he would walk was as strong
wasnt in bed, he was confined to a wheelchair. One sunny
day his mother wheeled him out into the yard to get some fresh
air. This day, instead of sitting there, he threw himself
from the chair. He pulled himself across the grass, dragging
his legs behind him.
his way to the white picket fence bordering their lot. With
great effort, he raised himself up on the fence. Then, stake
by stake, he began dragging himself along the fence, resolved
that he would walk. He started to do this every day until
he wore a smooth path all around the yard beside the fence.
There was nothing he wanted more than to develop life in those
through his daily massages, his iron persistence and his resolute
determination, he did develop the ability to stand up, then
to walk haltingly, then to walk by himself - and then - to
to walk to school, then to run to school, to run for the sheer
joy of running. Later in college he made the track team.
later in Madison Square Garden this young man who was not
expected to survive, who would surely never walk, who could
never hope to run - this determined young man, Dr. Glenn Cunningham,
ran the worlds fastest mile!