I want to take a quick minute to talk to you all about one of the most inspirational men that I have yet to meet. I officially met Thomas Mills at the Beach Beast in Ft. Lauderdale where he was dressed as Superman, but I immediately recognized him as a man dressed in a gold stretchy body suit and competing with Karma Athletes and who deeply inspired me when we participated in the Warrior Dash last November.
|Me with Thomas at Beach Beast|
According to their website, Karma Athletes is a group of hard working athletes committed to creating positive change in their local community. Karma has a great presence in the local obstacle racing scene, and though I do find them to be somewhat intimidating (because they all appear to be WAY more physically fit than me, way more attractive than me, way more capable than me, and because they all seem to know previously established relationships with one another), they are an incredibly inspirational group.
But then, there is Thomas. Thomas still participated in obstacle races as a member of their team, but it has become clear that members of Karma Athletes are also now members of his team as well.
Thomas is the founder of a project called Superman Walks/ RAAN, where "RAAN" stands for "raising awareness of amputees needs." As a man who lost his lower leg 9 years ago after a horrible road accident, Thomas knows the special needs of amputees all too well. In the short time that I have known and talked with this amazing man, I have learned a lot about the physical needs of amputees, such as funding and obtaining appropriately fitting prostheses, and the reasons that many amputees wind up with ill-fitting or poor quality devices.
But what I have also learned first hand is the importance of the emotional and mental needs of amputees.
And I think that is probably what makes Thomas the most inspirational. Having lost his leg through traumatic circumstances, the grieving process was not easy for him. He struggled with a deep depression, began to lose so much weight he was wasting away, and contemplating ending his life. From the basic research I've done, this is not an uncommon scenario. He felt as if, by losing his leg, he life was over. He struggled with regaining some sense of normalcy, and a return of control over his own body and his own life.I don't know how he came to participating in obstacle races, or how the Superman Walks project came to fruition, but what I do know is that to hear of how desperate he was in the beginning to find meaning (ANY meaning) in his life, and to see how desperate he now is to encourage and inspire others to overcome obstacles and challenges so they can CREATE meaning, THAT is breath-taking.
Sometimes, in this crazy hectic life, it is easy to classify humanity as deteriorating and people becoming more and more hardened and mean. This has been true for me lately in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings. And yet, here is this guy who has done something that really just feels like warm rays of sun shining down in the eye of a hurricane.
Recently, Thomas did 2 amazing things that should have never surprised me, but did.
1) Thomas decided that in the wake of the Boston Bombings that he could help the young men and women who were injured in the attacks. Knowing that sometimes amputees have difficulty opening up to non-amputees about their emotional well-being and their fears and concerns... Thomas recognized that he could help some of these people to process their new circumstances. Thomas is still in the early planning stages of this trip, has secured some housing and transport while in Boston, but is still trying to secure the funding needed for this kind of time away. I wish him nothing but success. For more info please visit the Superman Walks/RAAN facebook page, or visit the donations section of his website.
2) This past weekend Superman Thomas attended the Superhero Scramble in Georgia and invited along a team of superhero sidekicks to assist recent amputee Matthew Pizzuto with participating in his first obstacle race/mud run. Matthew, a young man who lost his lower leg less than a year ago had yet to receive his first prosthetic, and was forced to travel much of this course in wheelchair and with crutches. Unbeknownst to Matthew, his family was able to witness the birth of a much stronger, much more empowered Matthew, and was awaiting his arrival at the finish line. I don't want to share too much of this story, because it is not mine to share, however I have to say that hearing about how strong, and how fearless Matthew was during this race... I'm impressed.
|Thomas and one of his superhero sidekicks with Matthew Pizzuto|
Ray and I are joining Thomas's badass superhero sidekicks team for a mud run in a couple weeks, and I can't be more excited. I really look forward to being something so big and something so great.
Matthew, if you are reading this... you are awesome! And totally badass. I can't wait to finally meet you!
Edited to add... Thomas just sent me a video of Matthew's amazing transformation. you need to watch this.