By now I’m sure you’ve seen the tweet that went viral Wednesday. It came from Scott Eisberg, Sports Director for WCIV in Charleston, SC, and it chronicled a huge moment in a young athlete’s life, “signing day”. In this case, Cooper Dawson, a 6-5, 250-pound Strong Side Defensive End from Charleston
This is one of the greatest signing days you will ever see. Hanahan’s Cooper Dawson picks Syracuse- but does it by first telling close friend Kingsley Feinman. Kingsley announces the decision- Dawson adds that Kingsley taught him the only disability is a bad attitude. @ABCNews4 pic.twitter.com/3OGJzJmlXg
— Scott Eisberg (@SEisbergWCIV) December 19, 2018
The day was for and about Cooper, and yet he wanted the friend who had taught him so much by example, to be a big part of the festivities. Cooper clearly “GETS IT”!
He understands that there are those in this world who struggle with, what for most people, are the easiest of tasks. He’s figured out at such an early age mind you, that his friend Kingsley has to do more each morning before school even begins, then he and his other buddies will do all day. Cooper recognizes that Kingsley’s human spirit is amazing, and it pushes him to embrace each day with a smile and a good attitude. It’s an ability that he has in abundance, and that the gridiron standout wanted to share with the world. Despite all of his friend’s struggles, he still has much to contribute to the world!
The story warms my heart, and it should yours too. It resonates with me probably more than others because I have sat in both Cooper’s, and in some ways, Kingsley’s seats (literally and figuratively). For 25 of my soon to be 51 years of living, I didn’t have a care in the world physically. Like most of you, I never had to stress out over climbing a flight of stairs; nor did I have to know exactly where every bathroom was wherever I was going. As you know, all of that changed on August 19, 1992. Suddenly everything that I once took for granted was gone. One day I was running 5 miles at my high school track, and the next I was numb from head to toe. What the hell just happened? Why me, and what’s next, were all questions rolling around in my head.
All of which brings me back to that human spirit, and how amazing it is. I remember vividly sitting in my wheelchair in Gym A at Kessler Institute, getting ready to learn how do everything all over again. Music was playing, and of the many songs blaring in the big room, there was one that stood out to me, Black Gold by Soul Asylum. Yes, it’s completely random, but it has a lyric that became everything to me. Listen for yourself, it comes 1 minute into the song, and is repeated again a little over 3 minutes in. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I think it is exactly why Cooper Dawson is so drawn to his friend Kingsley.
Happily, I’ve seen a few other tweets recently which illustrate to me the power of the human spirit which I’d like to share with you.
The first one is of my friend, Eric LeGrand. He continues kicking asses and taking names, along the way inspiring me and all around him. Keep pushing Eric, we all #bELieve52!
— Eric LeGrand (@EricLeGrand52) December 13, 2018
The second is of former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, Ryan Shazier. The progress he has made since being carted off the field is amazing, and obviously continues. You go Ryan!
— NFL (@NFL) December 6, 2018
The holidays are always a great time to reflect on who and what we have in our lives. Special thanks this year to Cooper Dawson for understanding that, and for underscoring it. Best of luck at Syracuse young man!