Have you ever gone through a moment that within a blink of an eye your life would be forever changed? Have you ever felt challenged or faced adversity in your life? Feeling an adverse or challenging moment happened for me at the age of 12. I was born with spina bifida and hydrocelephalus 36 years ago and have had a life full of challenges and adversities, dealing with stigmas on persons with disabilities and overcoming physical barriers, just to name a few. While I was born with the ability to walk with the use of a cane, my condition slowly digressed to the point that back in 1992 I had a surgery with a success rate at that time of 40%. After the surgery I had become permanently wheelchair bound and challenges that I faced prior to my surgery had instantly amplified.
Even prior to the surgery I started to learn of and to embrace a “person first” mentality and this was thanks in large part to my time at Camp Marydale. I was part of their one-to-one program and I was fortunate enough to meet so many great people. Outside of my family and friends I was exposed to a whole new perspective of what living life actually meant. Meeting so many people and being treated like a kid, but more importantly as an equal, allowed me to be whom I was as person and not let my cane, walker or braces that I wore be something that defined me.
I owe a lot to my family and friends; I was treated no different than my siblings, or my friends and that suited me just fine. I knew that prior to and just after my surgery that things weren’t going to change with who I was as a person and I was going to make sure that I stayed true to my morals and values I learned growing up and stayed comfortable with who I am. I allowed myself to embrace a new set of challenges since adapting to a new lifestyle using a wheelchair.
Growing up, I have always maintained a close bond with family and friends. I feel very fortunate that I have lived the life I have to date. A high-school graduate, having been a part of the vocal ensemble and received an Amity Goodwill Award for excelling while being afflicted with a “difference of ability”. A Mohawk graduate in Enterprise Business, Office Administration General and Executive. Also, a true highlight of my life to date was being inducted as an Alumni of Distinction.
As an employee for nearly 10 years at Mohawk I truly recognize the value of what it means to be inclusive and I hope this post helps others to see this as well. A place that I have been able to call my “second home” for 17 years. An institution in our community that values accessibility and inclusion as a mandate, not an afterthought.
I have been challenged in life, as we all have in one way or another. For me, character is defined by how we overcome those challenges, rather than the challenges that we face. Life truly is not measured by the amount of times you get knocked down, but by the amount of times you get back up. To those around me, thank you for helping me up – helping me see what quality of life really means, truly allowing me to live my life through a “Difference of Ability”
– Anthony Frisina
Enterprise Business ‘02
Follow Anthony @anthony_frisina