Perseverance is difficult. Perseverance amidst adversity is even more so. Every day, my brother’s perseverance inspires me to work harder and stop complaining. Sam was born with spina bifida, a condition that has paralyzed him from the waist down his whole life. My parents first met Sam in an orphanage in Uganda, while in the process of adopting two of my younger siblings. His personality, full of smiles, jokes, and charm, instantly captured my parent’s hearts. Since the moment I met Sam, he has been constantly breaking stereotypes. Due to his lower body being paralyzed, Sam’s upper body strength is incredible. He loves to show off his hard work through winning arm wrestling competitions and completing 22 pull-ups without stopping.
I can’t imagine my life without Sam. He has taught me to never judge someone by their disability. Sam works every day to be more and more independent. He rises to any challenge set before him. He is a member of the Rolling Panthers, a national wheelchair basketball team, and competes around the midwest. Tipping over is not rare during games, but Sam tips over more than most. Every time, he pushes himself back up off the floor and hustles towards the action. He is determined to work his hardest for the team.
A couple years ago, Sam had some medical complications and was in the hospital for several weeks. Despite the setback, he found a way to make the most out of his extended time there. He has always loved practical jokes, so he and his nurses were in a constant prank war. From silly string to fake mice, Sam enjoyed hearing their screams and laughter. It was a very discouraging time for my whole family, but visiting him made us all smile. He would share new jokes or toys with us, and I always felt full of positivity when I went home.
Having Sam in high school with me encourages me every day. I often see him cracking jokes with his friends or sneaking up to scare teachers. He pats me on the back when he rolls by. I’ll pass him in the hallway and see his special smile. Sam is always smiling even through difficulties. It shows me that any challenges I face, I can push through with a smile, too.
Sam never judges anyone by the way they look. He sees a friend, despite their race, religion, or background. He finds ways to connect with people through his jokes and contagious laughter. It seems everyone Sam meets becomes a friend. He never speaks poorly of anyone. I strive to be more friendly, like Sam.
Through perseverance and smiles, Sam has broken racial and physical stereotypes. He inspires me to accept challenges with a positive mindset. He encourages me to live like there is no tomorrow and to be kind to everyone I meet. Sam has taught me many life lessons and is one of the most important people in my life.