On Monday I introduced you all to Thomas Mills, founder of the Superman Walks Project/The Hope Within. If you missed it, please go back and read his incredible and heart wrenching story here, and also a brief overview of what exactly the SWP is all about.
Today we’ll look a little bit more into the Superman Walks Project and what it means to Tom moving forward. Read on for his account of a recent race with a young man who had recently lost a leg, and how crossing the finish line of an obstacle course race helped to bring this young man newfound hope moving forward. With the recent attacks in Boston leaving so many people without one or more of their limbs, I found it so inspiring that there was someone out there who was working so hard to help these people continue to strive for their goals, no matter how unreachable they may seem at first.
If you’ve caught up on the first part of the interview here, let’s move on to the rest of the questions, shall we?
[All photos in this post courtesy of the Superman Walks Project]
3. What has been your most memorable moment with the SWP so far?
Matthew Pizzuto is the first person to experience what Superman Walks Project is all about. Matthew lost his leg 7-23-2012. All amputees go through a very dark period that rips the very fabric of the soul. Each amputee has to redefine what is means to be alive and live with a life without a limb. There is the loss of ambition, drive, and self worth. Matthew was picked up on Thursday and I drove him to an amazing obstacle course race called SuperHero Scramble. Josh and Sean “Ace” worked with me to ensure Matthew experienced an amazing race. A team of 6 fought together to ensure Matthew did not quit nor fail.
Each step of the way, a the spark of life returned to this man. As that spark turned into a roaring blaze, Matthew took on the last obstacle which was the super slide into super slime water pit. He embraced his team mates on the edge of the pool and looked up. What he had hoped and wished the entire time was that his family would have been there to see what he had accomplished. Little did he know, Superman Walks Project had been in contact with his family and coordinated with his mother all the way up until the final moment. The entire family had been there the whole time and even were able to see some of his accomplishments on the course.
After coming off the slide and righting himself in the SuperSlime water pit, Matthew looked up at the finish line and he spotted his entire family standing there with smiles, tears, signs and medals in their hands. Matthew was lifted out of the water and we delivered him into the arms of his loving family. Each member of the family put a medal around his neck, hugged, kissed and cried with him. There was not a dry eye to be seen anywhere around him. One of the race director even admonished me for pulling this off and not bringing him a tissue. You can see his video here
Added by Steph: I dare you to watch this video and not cry
Matthew stayed with at my home for a month. I taught him everything I knew about life after amputation. I helped him start building himself up to discover who he is as a new man and start fighting to become the man he wants to be in this life. Matthew will be fitted for a new leg this month.
4. What is your biggest piece of advice for those who have recently lost limbs? What was the best advice that someone gave to you after your accident?
The darkness that surrounds you when no one else is around, the pain that never ends and tears your soul as if it will never repair, the overwhelming feeling that no one understands what you are going through, the feeling of who would love a guy like me now, the feeling of who would want to marry and have kids with a girl like me now, the emotions that push you to the brink and beyond, the desire to end it all, and hundreds of other emotions and struggles you are facing… The light to guide your way is there, the fears, darkness, loss of identity will dissipate. The difference is, you can try and do it like I did and never speak to anyone or allow anyone in. Or you can [contact] me or anyone who IS LIKE YOU, who KNOWS WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH, and through just a simple phone call you will feel the unraveling edges of your being begin to mend. Able bodied people can never understand but we as amputees know the pain, the loss, and the destruction we heap upon ourselves in the dark days we experience.
Reach out to me or someone and we will guide you back to the light and help you rediscover new potential you always had within you.
5. You are an inspiration to many people. Who is your inspiration in life?
The people I help and the people that are inspired by what I do. Those are the people that inspire me to do more and continue on when it feels hopeless or impossible.
6. What are your hopes for the future of SWP, and what will it take to get there?
Worldwide assistance to anyone who needs help. A foundation that can accomplish that and more.
I am a one man crew here. I have teammates that help but I fund this all myself and through fundraisers. I need people willing to help me build this. I need support to continue only working on this. I need encouraging words and people that will spread this to as many people as they can so the people that need help will find a place to get it.
Again, thank you so very much to Thomas Mills, both for helping me when I injured myself at the race, and for sharing his story with us all. I find his story amazing and inspiring, going from a very dark point in his life to the incredible work that he is doing now to help others. I feel lucky to have met Tom, and am still very much in awe of his kind and gentle spirit. I truly hope that Tom’s dream is able to come true, and that he is able to continue helping those in need through the Superman Walks Project. Please visit the SWP website here for more information or if you are interested in helping out.
How’s that for a little mid-week inspiration? 🙂