Courage is a big word, an important word, and a characteristic that to some degree we all share. It takes courage to free climb up the side of a mountain for an experienced climber just as it takes courage to walk up the stairs for a person managing MS. Courage isn’t only needed to complete an extreme activity...often times it takes courage just to get out of bed and face another day of feeling sick or being in pain.
Recently I was asked “what was going through your mind as you began to share your diagnosis?” I was sick of hiding it from everyone, I felt like I had a better handle on things? The more I think about it really I was scared, I was running low on courage. The thought of being disabled was a huge blow to my life plan, how was I going to teach my son how to play basketball while riding in a scooter? So many negative thoughts coursed through me all driven by fear of the unknown.
Once I began to get a grasp on my new life with MS things began to become more clear to me. I realized that I could help myself by making simple life changes and dedicating myself to being the best that I could be and I gained a little courage. In my life I have seen friends fight courageously against Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer, Depression, and they all fought with everything they had. Recently I was introduced to a gentleman that has his own special brand of courage.
Nathan Denofre was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, which left him without legs below the knee. After years of wear and tear on his body and multiple surgeries, he was left with degenerative spine narrowing in his back, which will eventually leave him with limited mobility.
In December 2014, former classmates Erik Conradson and Jamie Maki found out about his condition, and they began a fundraising effort to help Denofre pull off one last great outdoor excursion before he lost mobility – or “Nate’s Last Stand,” as it was referred to.
In six months time, over $4,200 had been raised in honor of Denofre – so he decided to pay it forward. Denofre founded Courage Incorporated to aid others with disabilities and help them see what they are capable of. (Courage Incorporated)
During our last correspondence I asked Nate about his courage and why he decided to pay it forward by starting up Courage Incorporated?
“I decided to pay it forward because I honestly believe a good deed can snowball into something great. Bob Marley said it best "bad never takes a day off, neither should good". I always was active. High school football jv and varsity (nose tackle). I was in swimming, wrestling etc. But when adulthood came I quickly realized the challenges that existed in society. I grew a hatred for many things including myself. I blamed society and others for my disability.
When friends got together for Nate's last stand I realized that I wasn't born the unluckiest man but maybe the most lucky of all. I have what society calls a handicap but here I am working 40 hours a week, climbing cliffs with no ropes and spending hundreds of days in the woods! Im lucky because I can do all these things and prove not to just the world but especially myself that most people choose to be "disabled". Only disability is in the mind and soul. And Courage is indeed the key, sometimes we may only have courage..and sometimes that's enough!. I just don't want other disabled people or veterans to feel useless or fill their heart with hate like I did for a long time. Hating others is like drinking poison and expecting others to die, only hurts yourself.”
I’ve decided to take Nate up on his offer and I will be joining him and the Courage Incorporated crew deep in the forest of Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula the week of August 22nd. We will spend our time in the Huron Mountains near the Yellow Dog River...a quick 8.5 hour drive North from Detroit. Nashville is where you would end up if you drove that far South just for some perspective. Our group will include some Veterans and some disabled people, we’ll spend our time fishing, navigating the forest, taking in scenic views and building up some courage.
I will check in as our trip gets closer, I’m excited beyond belief and cannot wait to get out into the woods, the only wildlife I have seen lately is currently jumping on the couch.
Would you like to spend some time with Nate and the Courage Incorporated team? Comment or email me and we will make it happen.
Be a warrior today,
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