Her name is Debbie Christensen. I first met Debbie at a Tournament of Champions event, an event for the top fundraisers for the National MS Society.What a thrill it was for us to be there with this extraordinary group of people. Movers and shakers from all across the country who as individuals had each raised at least $10,000 for the MS Society. I had the chance to spend time with almost everybody there except for one person and that was Debbie. But she made a big impression on me.
Fortunately we were invited back the next year and so was Debbie. I made it a point to spend some time with her and get to know her a little bit and what an extraordinary person she is.
The first thing that you notice about Debbie is her smile. She is beaming with a huge smile that you could only assume is there 24 hours a day. She is happy, inspired, grateful, thrilled to be with people and to be included and recognized for who she is and what she does. She is an inspiration.
She is also someone who has been very impacted by her MS. She has a caregiver with her 24 hours a day. She rides in a reclining wheelchair. She speaks very slowly and softly and yet has much to say. She stays active, involved, has a large family (over 200 cousins) and a lot of friends. This past November I had the opportunity to spend more time with her and I'm happy to say that now I am one of her friends.
Why does she inspire me? Because regardless of her circumstances she wakes up happy every day. Despite her seemingly limited abilities, she is there making a difference all the time. And I can only guess that what ever her MS has taken away from her physical abilities, it has added to her spirit.
Debbie makes me want to do more. She makes me want to be more appreciative. She makes me want to have an impact on people and the world around me.
But most of all she makes me smile.
May you wake up happy every day of the coming year. May you find an opportunity for gratitude in everyone of your life experiences. May something as simple as your smile be an inspiration to those around you. May the new year be filled with miracles and blessings for you and your family.