Aaron Scheidies: Road to Rio
Aaron writes as a guest blogger for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) about his Road of Life and Road to Rio for the 2016 Paralympic Games. Check out his bumpy but resilient road.
Those that know me are aware that my Road of Life has been a little different. Not different because it has had obstacles whereas others have not. No matter who we are or what we have accomplished, the road of life is a bumpy, winding and many times unpredictable one that challenges our strength, perseverance and commitment. The road of life forces us to question our purpose and our motivation to achieve that purpose. Even more importantly, the road of life teaches us resiliency. Resiliency is a learned ability that each and every one of us is instilled but it is up to us to develop. Resiliency is learned through challenges and hardships and is the ability to do whatever it takes to get the job done, no matter the difficulty or the risk.
The first major detour on my road came at a young age. At nine years old, I began to quickly lose my sight and for nearly five years the cause was unknown. As I entered into the tough teenage years, what seemed like a “Proceed with Caution” sign quickly became a “Road Closed” sign in my mind. Dreams of being a professional soccer player were swept to the waste side and constant mental battles questioning “Why me?” ran rampant in my head. For three years I was stopped behind the road block, trying to figure out how I could get around it. These were very tough times in which I was diagnosed with OCD, an eating disorder and severe depression.
Through endurance sports I found an outlet that allowed me to take down the “Road Closed” sign. Beginning with swimming, endurance sports gave me a brand new road to travel. I slowly overcame the constant psychological battle of depression, OCD and the eating disorder and began looking for new challenges and obstacles to overcome. One of these challenges included a triathlon. A triathlon is a challenge in itself to most people but when you add in the dimension of being legally blind and doing the race all alone without a guide, you step it up to a whole new level. Most people wouldn’t even think to attempt what I did in those first few years of triathlon but I wasn’t thinking about the danger and risk, I only cared about doing whatever it took to get the job done. The psychological struggles and obstacles that I faced in my teenage years had taught me resiliency which would become the most important and powerful trait that I would ever need on the Road of Life.
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