I recently spent a week in Greenville, South Carolina. I was there to do leadership training with a group of high energy professionals who provide life and wellness services to first responders across the nation. When I travel, I always work in at least a couple of days to explore the area, see new sights, and hopefully get some nice photos. However on this trip I found so much more.
I stayed in the Hampton Inn and Suites, right on the Reedy River. Every morning when I entered the dining area for breakfast, a server looked at me and with a smile asked, “How is your day going today sir?” I knew he meant it. One morning I noticed him showing something on his phone to a couple of guests sitting at a table near me. Smiling while they watched, he seemed so happy to share. I asked him if I could also see what he was sharing. It was a video of him singing the national anthem at the Special Olympics. That’s how I became friends with Joshua Powell.
Josh has Cerebral Palsy and Mild Intellectual Disability. He lived in Denver until his late twenties, and then joined his parents to do missionary work in China. He was proud to tell me his practice of always trying to find useful things to do, before he travels someplace new. He loves to sing, and he sings very well. In China he connected with special-needs schools and taught vocal music.
Josh has been in the Special Olympics for nearly 30 years. He has participated in a number of types of games. A few months ago in Germany, he won the Bronze Medal for bowling. Josh is passionate about everything he does, but most proud of the gift of his voice. I enjoyed watching the videos of him singing the national anthem opening up Special Olympics events.
Josh certainly has some challenges. However, he told me with great certainty, that it is his challenges that gave him the greatest opportunities in life. With pride, he told me that because of his Cerebral Palsy he could not crawl as a baby, so he learned to move around by rolling. He was drawn from China to the Philippines because a friend thought that because Josh speaks a little slower, he would be a perfect fit to teach English to children in a church. Josh not only taught them English, but he taught them how to sing.
When I told Josh how much I admire all he has done, he smiled and referred to a quote Indiana Jones said, “It’s not the years … it’s the mileage.” The management team in the hotel certainly appreciate Josh. When I shared that I would be profiling him, General Manager Maylee West said, “Despite his challenges, he consistently maintains a cheerful demeanor and a positive outlook. He motivates us.”
I asked Josh if there was one thing that he would want a reader of this article to take away, what would it be. His voice picked up a couple of energy levels and he excitedly said, “I’m so glad you asked me that! All of us at some point will slow down, maybe stop. But I never want to stop. I will always find a way to help others. None of us have to stop – there’s always something we can do to help, no matter what our limitations.”
The motto of the Special Olympics is, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Josh credits those few words with changing his life. I have come to know that is how Josh lives his life.
Thank you Josh, because you have helped me – you have enhanced my life. More to come for us both!
"Let Me Be Brave in the Attempt"
Joe Fox is a retired NYPD Chief with over 37 years of experience, motivational speaker, author, business consultant, leadership/life coach, U.S. Department of Justice Medal of Valor Review Board Member, Board of Directors, Rockaway’s 9/11/01 Tribute Park, Board of Directors 5-Star Life Insurance Company, serving US Military and first responders, social media influencer and digital creator.