Admiration galore flows to those who persevere against odds and expectations. Plenty of examples can be found of such inspirational reports and accounts. Likely, we all have our favorites. It’s with immense pleasure, respect and honor that I share some of mine here. Yes, abundant respect and honor for those folks who pursued their passions, regardless of the hurdles, obstacles and dismissals. Triumphantly, they proved others, and sometimes, themselves wrong. Conquer, they did, anyhow.
– In the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, during the 400 meter race, British runner Derek Redmond experienced a torn hamstring. He was determined to finish the race. As Derek hobbled forward, his father, Jim, came from the stands to assist him. The track authority personnel attempted to stop Jim but he pushed the man away. The authorities ceased their attempts to prevent him. Jim told Derek that he didn’t have to finish; Derek responded, “Yes, I do.” His father answered that they’d finish together. Father and son kept going toward the finish line with Derek sobbing in major disappointment. He never stopped going forward in spite of his sorrow. Derek reached the finish line. The crowd gave a standing ovation at the stunning display of love and perseverance. On January 10, 2012, it was announced that Jim would carry the Olympic torch at the Summer Olympics. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched that historically inspiring video of Derek and Jim on YouTube, but every time it deeply moves me.
– Speed skater Dan Jansen competed in four Olympics and didn’t gain a medal until his fourth and last Olympic competition. It was a gold. At the 1984 Olympics, Jansen came in fourth in the 500 event and sixteenth in the 1000 event. In the 1988 Olympics, he was a favorite to win. Before competing in the 500 and 1000 meter events, he was informed that his sister had passed. Jansen fell in both races and went home with no medals, but was given an Olympic Spirit Award for his valor after learning of his sister’s death. At the 1992 Olympics, Jansen finished fourth in the 500 and twenty-sixth in the 1000 meter event. Jansen’s 1994 Olympic competition was his finest. He was there for his last opportunity and won. What a great event to witness!
– Actress Taraji Henson grew up in the inner city of Washington, D.C. She worked as a secretary and singing waitress to finance her college education. Henson was an Electrical Engineering student who failed calculus. Her father, Boris, convinced Henson to pursue her real love, theater. She returned to her hometown, transferred to Howard University and got a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Henson got pregnant her junior year in college. After her son was born, and receipt of her college degree, Henson’s dad urged her to go to Hollywood. He passed a hat; family and friends contributed a total of $700.00. In 1996, Henson boarded a plane with $700.00, a child and a passionate dream to become an actress. She has excelled at her craft winning numerous awards and nominations.
– Carl Brashear enlisted in the U.S. Navy February 25, 1948; in 1954 he became the first Black person to attend and graduate from the Diving and Salvage School, and the first Black U.S. Navy diver. Brashear dealt with hostility and racism but persevered in spite of the opposition. In March of 1966, his left leg was nearly removed in a bomb recovery dive operation. Eventually, it was amputated. Before Brashear, there was no amputee to be (re)certified as a U.S. Navy diver. In April of 1968, he succeeded in that accomplishment. In 1970, Brashear became a Master Diver in the U.S. Navy, the first Black person to reach that status. He performed ten additional years and in 1971, arrived at the level of Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate. Cuba Gooding, Jr. portrayed Brashear in the 2000 movie, Men of Honor, based on Brashear’s life. I deem it an exceptional movie, and certainly one of my favorites. Gooding and Robert DeNiro aced their roles in that film, yes indeed.
Reports of perseverance are indeed encouraging, some mightily so, thanks be unto God our awesome Creator. Knowledge of folks who’ve overcome, persevered and triumphed can inspire us to continue in spite of our own challenges and obstacles. Lessons learned are valuable and truly beneficial. Heart moving stories strike chords in us that help our spiritual pulses to continue in love and hope. Yes, joy comes into play, as well.
I’m immensely grateful to know about the conquering spirits of the many folks who inspire us in our journeys forward. The rewards, works and miracles of God are awesome beyond comprehension.
Psalm 19:1 – KJV
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.
Psalm 19:5 – KJV
. . . and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
1 Corinthians 9:24 – KJV
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize: So run, that ye may obtain.
Hebrews 12:1 – KJV
. . . and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,