“It's not the mountain we conquer but ourselves” - Sir Edmund Hillary
Choosing which mountain to climb is a very personal decision. Some mountains we choose are based on sheer size and technical difficulty to climb. Others are based on circumstances encountered along our journey in life. We climb for the sense of adventure and the yearning to conquer the “road less traveled” in pursuit of lofty goals; while taking calculated risks and pushing ourselves mentally and physically beyond limits once thought possible to attain those goals. Yet our true sense of achievement doesn't come from conquering the mountain; it comes from conquering the obstacles and fears we find deep within ourselves along the way.
No one makes it to the top alone. It takes leadership, teamwork, perseverance, and a bit of risk. It takes complete trust in your team, in your equipment, and in yourself. And you have to have the courage to fail to succeed and achieve something in life that's bigger than you.
Advocating on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is not the mountain I initially set out to climb. Through circumstances encountered along my journey in life I believe it's been chosen for me. For I've met many truly remarkable individuals in my travels - including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. And as I've gotten to know them, I've gotten to know their struggles, their frustrations, and their fears as they deal with the uncertainties of their futures.
Advocating on their behalf is one of those "roads less traveled" in the pursuit of a lofty goal where I believe I can achieve something in life that's bigger than me. Whether you're an employer, or a parent/caregiver of a loved one with an intellectual or developmental disability, we need to overcome preconceived notions about what they can't do; and focus instead on the possibilities of what they can do. Together we need to take calculated risks and provide opportunities that make a difference so they succeed in life to the best of their abilities. By doing so I'm hopeful that one day no wall, no matter how tall, will stand in their way of being accepted and included in our places of work, our communities, and our hearts.