Prepare the Person, Not the Path

Written by: Dr. Steve Whitaker, Head of School

Roger Crawford started life with seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against him. However, God gave him extraordinary parents who chose to see life differently than most.

His challenge: Crawford was born with no hands and only one foot, with thumb-like protrusions from his forearms and his legs, and arms abnormally shortened. He was told by doctors that he would never be able to walk. He was expected to be in need of constant care, and he was told he would never live a normal life.

His parents’ response: Their shock, anger, worry and frustration were poignant, but they chose to replace those emotions with determination, faith, trust and optimism. They chose to prepare the person (Roger) for a normal life, rather than preparing the path for his comfort. “You are only as handicapped as you want to be,” his father told him over and over
again. Roger remembers, “Something my parents never did was allow me to feel sorry for myself or take advantage of my situation.” They taught Roger to believe the best and think positively.

The result: Roger enrolled in school, learned to play tennis, made the varsity tennis team at Loyola Marymount University, became a USTA sanctioned tennis professional, became a business consultant to Fortune 500 companies, traveled the world as a gifted speaker/communicator, and today he enjoys investing in the lives of others.

Few of us have experienced the challenges encountered by Roger and his parents. We have difficult moments and occasional frustrations, but few real problems. What we can learn from the parents of Roger Crawford is a simple lesson – when our children encounter what appears to be insurmountable odds, our response should be to prepare the person and not the 
path. Don’t remove obstacles that may hold valuable lessons for them. Don’t allow them to make excuses or shrink away from difficulty. Lift their sights beyond the temporary discomfort and cheer them on toward the pursuit of what appears to be an impossible prize.

Let’s learn from Roger Clark who maintains, “Handicaps (or difficulties) can only disable (or hinder) us if we let them. This is true not only of physical challenges, but of emotional and intellectual ones as well. I believe that real and lasting limitations are created in our minds not our bodies.”

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve your family at The First Academy – have a blessed week!


Steve Whitaker, Ph.D.
Head of School

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