Last week, we had the honor of hosting an American hero, Steve Baskis, as our cityCURRENT Signature Breakfast speaker. Ever since he was a child, Steve wanted to serve in the military like his father and grandfather, who both shared with him their stories of service and adventure. He was living just outside of New York City when the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001; and had friends who lost loved ones that day. Desiring to serve our country, he enlisted in the Army, graduated with honors from Fort Benning, earned a meritorious promotion; and was hoping to someday become a Green Beret.
In May 2008, however, Steve’s squad was attacked while on combat patrol in Iraq. A sophisticated roadside bomb sent a projectile through his heavily-armored vehicle, killing his mentor seated next to him. A week later, Steve woke up stateside and a doctor told him that he was blind.
Steve would go on to have more than a dozen surgeries to remove shrapnel and repair damage that included a fractured nose, fractured eye orbits, a fractured skull, and severe burns, along with a severed artery and severed nerves that disabled his right leg and left arm. For most of us, our outlook would be grim at this point; but for Steve, he jumped into rehab and started pushing himself to the limits.
I encourage you to watch the video of his presentation below. What he’s doing now is truly remarkable! He’s climbing mountains, like Kilimanjaro, and literally summiting the highest peaks on earth and in life. He’s whitewater rafting, snow skiing down mountains, and biking distances over 800 miles! He’s experiencing more without his eyesight than I’ll probably ever see with my eyes. Watching his presentation and how he used his iWatch and an earpiece to advance slides was mesmerizing.
Even better, Steve has started a nonprofit, Blind Endeavors Foundation, to do even more good and to share stories of human resilience, along with information about accessible technology, medical advancements, and adaptive recreation that exist for those with physical and mental disabilities.
As Steve said, “Blindness, it is life long challenge. Stare into the darkness and you will never find your way. Explore through the darkness and you’re bound to stumble upon a great adventure.”
We’re all going to face darkness in our lives. The question is how will we respond? Let’s choose to explore!