INSPIRING STORY OF THE WEEK
ROLL OF A LIFETIME
by Gabriel Cordell
(with Lois W. Stern)
It happened in a flash. One moment I was in my Jeep on my way to an acting audition and the next instant I was lying on the ground with my back pressed hard against a telephone pole. I couldn’t feel my legs; they wouldn’t move. They didn’t hurt–but they didn’t work either.
Later I would learn that a woman had run a red light and crashed into my Jeep. I was catapulted from my vehicle, still clutching my steering wheel. I instantly was now paralyzed from the waist down, and knew that meant my life would be altered forever. But I was determined to not let the accident destroy me.
While in rehab I came to know the children. Many of the little ones had never known a life, I felt strangely blessed. I had had many opportunities I once took for granted. Plus I was no stranger to hard work.
A new focus for Gabriel – An inspiring story for the rest of us
I had heard of three paraplegics who rode their wheelchairs across America, each using a specially modified wheelchair. Although I was determined to roll across America too, I wanted to do it differently. My plan was to roll in a stock wheelchair, the kind anyone could buy at a medical supply store. It was really important to me to accomplish my goal in a standard wheelchair because it represented the everyday person. If I succeeded, I felt I could make a difference while fulfilling my destiny to do something special with my life.
Gabriel, in training at the Burbank Y
In the beginning I thought this trip was all about me. I was thinking only about fulfilling a promise to myself and meeting a challenge. I wanted to validate myself as a man. But I also wanted to give my parents that moment of pride. However, a week into the roll, I came face to face with my ‘Awakenings’ moment. I suddenly realized that the trip was not about me. Instead, it was a way to inspire people to be better and do better with their lives.
Gabriel not only completed his journey, but has given us a most inspiring story.
Roll of a Lifetime is now published in
Tales2Inspire ~ The Topaz Collection
(Stories of Awakenings and Aha Moments)