Tuesday, May 17, 2016. My first morning post. And I’m fresh off 2.75 hours of sleep. The sleep is pretty hard to come by because of the heavy steroids, which will continue for another 7 days. The lack of sleep, however, is a blessing in disguise as it gives you more time to read and more time to think; and as of of late, my mind has never been this clear.
The first thing I read this morning was Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement address on May 14, 2016 at the University of California. Sheryl is the COO of Facebook that tragically and unexpectedly lost her husband on a vacation just over 1 year ago. Her comments, including the philosophy behind the 3 P’s to bouncing back (personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence), are uplifting and should be read by all. The link to her entire commencement address can be found at: http://fortune.com/2016/05/14/sandberg-uc-berkley-transcript/
Immediately after finishing her speech, I got the feed to a video at 5:26 am from my buddy Adam Halpern. The email said “Good morning. I hope treatment is going as planned to free you.” He then suggested I check out this video that he has watched “over 50 times” to “inject himself with this type of positivity every morning.”
The video is good. No doubt it is inspirational. But unless you know Adam, this is just another sports video showing you some undersized athletes that rose to the challenge, worked a little harder, and came out on top. The truth is Steph Curry may be the MVP at 6 foot nothing, but he’s got nothing on Adam Halpern. Steph should be waking up to Adam Halpern videos and motivational speeches.
Adam is the brother of one my closest friend’s Evan. On September 21, 2004, Adam sustained a spinal cord injury in a terrible car accident. Both of Adam’s lungs collapsed, his neck and ribs were fractured, and he was paralyzed from the middle chest down. Adam’s story is one of pain and triumph. From literal rock bottom to 37-year-old Hofstra University professor, husband and father. Adam is a true inspiration. The word impossible does not exist in Adam’s vocab.
When we went away with our friends to St. Lucia in early April (where ironically I started feeling chest pain and shortness of breath), Evan sent me a newspaper article one afternoon from the Rockaway newspaper (“The Wave”). While I was generally familiar with Adam’s story from Evan over the years (having met Adam on a several occasions), the perspective in the story was from Adam, and everything about where he had been and where he was now. There was just incredible meaning and purpose when told from Adam’s vantage point and not in the third hand. I remember sitting in St. Lucia, reading the story on a lounge chair, and telling Evan that Adam was a real hero and should be telling his story to everyone.
The link to Adam’s story can be found at: http://www.rockawave.com/news/2016-04-08/Front_Page/An_Outlier_Visits_RPHS.html.
Fast forward 3.5 weeks. As I am sitting in the White Plains Hospital after being told I had a 4 1/2 inch tumor in my chest that needed to get tested for cancer, I pulled up the article on my phone that Evan had sent me a few backs in St. Lucia and read it again. I had remembered Adam telling the students “if you are going through hell, keep going.” I had no idea what was about to unfold or what that biopsy would show, but I read the article again. And again.
As I told Adam early on, what he has gone through — and overcome — is inspirational. A battle with cancer is a walk in the park compared to his journey. But whatever the battle we each have to win, no matter how large or small, I did want Adam Halpern to know that he was in fact a hero to me and someone who sets the example for living each day. That is why the sports video this morning means so much more than it should. And that is why I reached out to Adam out of the gates to make sure he knew that he was my inspiration for attacking each day.
Here’s to Adam getting out there and inspiring other people to fight and be great. Adam, you’re the man. Looking forward to seeing you cheering on Chase and Jake in Scarsdale this weekend.