Ramona Pierson’s Amazing Comeback


At about 4 p.m. on a weekday in April 1984, Pierson finished her work, went home, leashed her dog, Chips, and set off on her usual run through a suburban neighborhood. She stopped at an intersection, bouncing in place as she waited for the light to change. As she started across the street, a drunk driver ran the red. Chips got hit first and died instantly. The car plowed into Pierson and then ran her over as the driver kept going. Both of Pierson’s legs were crushed; her throat and chest were ripped open, exposing her heart. Her aorta sprayed blood, and she sputtered as she tried to breathe. Just before everything went black, Pierson says, she felt “my life’s blood emptying out of my neck and my mouth.”

Continue reading Ramona Pierson's Amazing Comeback


A Man Who Really Loves Golf

Manuel de los Santos grew up in the Dominican Republic, where he played baseball from a young age and was planning to turn professional. But a motorcycle accident changed his life forever when he lost his left leg above the knee.

Following this accident, he moved to France and on seeing the film, ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance’, he was inspired to take up golf. Now 26 years old, Manuel lives in Paris and plays to a handicap of just three, competing in high profile tournaments all around the world. His extraordinary golf swing has become instantly recognisable.

Peter Montgomery read about Manuel at the end of 2009 and had the idea of making a film about him. This short documentary portrait is the result.

Walt Ratterman: A Hero Dies in Haiti – by John Mauldin

From John Mauldin at Thoughts from the Frontline

A few weeks ago I wrote about my friend Walt Ratterman, who was at the Hotel Montana in Haiti when the earthquake hit. Walt's wife Jeanne received an email only 10 minutes before the quake, which placed him in the courtyard, where he would have been OK. After the quake there was an eerie silence. We all assumed that Walt was helping those injured in the quake and that he and his friends would surface when they got a break. Those who knew Walt understand the passion he brought to many relief operations. Walt was known for sneaking into Myanmar in the bottom of a boat where, if discovered, he would have been summarily executed. Walt was the subject of the documentary Beyond the Call, which showed him braving Afghanistan a month after 9/11, Myanmar, and the most dangerous region of the Philippines.

Walt's love of helping people who, for no fault of their own, couldn't help themselves caused him to relocate his family to the West Coast, to be better able to continue his work. Walt traveled the world to help the needy, visiting Asia, Africa, South America, and Central America. Each time he brought food, medical relief, and solar power, and had a sustaining impact on all the lives he touched. Walt was part of a team brought into Haiti by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) to bring solar power to Haiti. Walt was working there on several projects, including a few hospitals where electricity brought them out of the dark ages, allowing them to perform surgeries and other treatments that were unavailable in Haiti previously. Many of the projects were completed prior to the quake and provided much-needed support for the injured, saving countless lives.

The great irony is that Walt almost never stayed in nice hotels. He stayed with those he helped.

The men and women who loved Walt mobilized to raise money and travel to Haiti. My own readers have been very generous. Six teams made their way at various times throughout the search and rescue phase of the operation. Each of those teams brought much-needed food, water, or medical relief. Dr. Sir James Laws hired a bus in the Dominican Republic and loaded it with bottled water that was given to many who were thirsty in Haiti. Sir Edward Artis loaded a 20-foot truck with food and braved the road from the Dominican Republic as well, in spite of reports of looting and hijacking of other vehicles on the road. The first team was given the emotional task of handling the morgue at the Hotel Montana. Without complaining, each member of that team stepped up and did what was asked of them. Each night this team cried themselves to sleep from the emotional toll of dealing with the dead that day. Each of the Knights and friends of Walt reached out to their entire networks and brought awareness to the search for Walt and the hundreds of others trapped in the rubble at the Hotel Montana.

As time wore on it became obvious that a miracle wasn't meant to be. Hope gave way to preparation for the inevitable. Walt's backpack and laptop were found a few days before his body was discovered. And then there was a wait for positive identification, before dental records confirmed that Walt was a casualty of the devastating earthquake. He was one of more than two hundred thousand souls separated from their bodies in that quake. No doubt Walt was busy in the spirit world, calming and organizing this mass of men, women, and children for their trek to meet their maker.

Each of us who has been involved in the life of Walt, and now with his untimely death, knows that he lived a life of honor and that he died doing the work that he loved. His death was certain to be a death of honor because of the way he chose to live his life. Each of us has the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to living our lives in a manner more aligned with the values that Walt applied every day he was here. Walt stared death in the face so many times and lived, that we all expected him to be immortal. Each of us has limited time on this planet, and we can use Walt's example to make that time count.

John Mauldin

If you want to send a donation: send a check made out to "Steps for Recovery" but clearly marked "FOR KNIGHTSBRIDGE / HAITI" to:

Steps For Recovery
P.O. Box 67522
Century City, CA 90067

(A California 501(c) 3 Tax Exempt Corporation
Federal ID # 95.4472343)

Learning from Ants

Eldon Taylor (Dec 15, 2009, InnerTalk InTouch, The Least Among Them) describes how ants have provided insights into life, from the time he was a boy. I can relate.

Years ago when I was but a mere 8 or 9 years old, I spent several consecutive days burning ants in my back yard. It is embarrassing to think about it now, but at the time I missed the meaning of what I was doing. I would dig up large anthills, and we had many, shoot some lighter fluid on the area and light a rolled sheet of wax paper that I used like a torch to spread the flames. Sometimes I would place small milk cartons on the hills and pretend they were houses going up in flames.

I had friends who did similar things to pass the summer days away so somehow I didn't think of what I was doing in any light other than normal and "so what?" Then one night I had a dream. In the dream the ant leaders came to speak with me. They were very courteous and formal, like grown ups, and they showed me the devastation I was bringing to their families and their young. I had wrecked their homes and tortured family members and they had dragged back to their graveyards the burnt and twisted remains of brothers and sisters. They also showed me around their homes as they were before I had started my fires and digging, sticking, drowning and otherwise tormenting these creatures. In the days before my boredom executed this pastime, the ants lived in harmony. They worked together to build, store and foster good works to create a strong future for their young and unborn. Their strength, courage and work ethic were most impressive even to a small child like myself.

I awoke from the dream frightened and nauseous. I felt terrible for what I had done. I never burnt another anthill or ant. I threw this afternoon pastime away for good and in time thought very little about ants. Although in twenty-twenty hindsight I can see that my learning should have transferred from ants to all animals, it didn't work quite that way for me. It did work well enough for me to refuse to take biology in High School because I objected to cutting up frogs, but by the time I entered adulthood most of the message had seriously dimmed.

Then one day, while riding in a limo to the airport in Tampa Bay, the driver and I had a conversation. It started with the nature of spirituality and the distinction between spirituality and religion.

After some "lofty and elegant" philosophies the driver looked at me and said, "You know what? I believe in prayer." He then went on to explain why. It was the ants again–ants that he had seen in a nature show on television. Ants that he said buried their dead and prayed. I left him at the airport and thanked him for the insight. "If ants pray," he said in parting, "then there must be a reason that goes beyond what we know."

As soon as I returned home I checked. Sure enough, ants lived up to my dream in real life. I pulled a quick article off the web from Encyclopedia Bugtannica and it began with, "They plant gardens, herd and milk bugs such as aphids, raise armies for battles, take slaves, and even bury their dead in ant cemeteries." The article just titled, "Ants" went on to speak of the loyalty, efficiency, diligence, sacrifice and teamwork that ants share." I thought of the many times on approach to landing that I had looked out the aircraft window, down on the anthills of man. Tiny vehicles traveling along skinny roadways, small houses and other buildings crowded together, itsy bitsy people and even more miniscule animals likes dogs carrying out their day–all just like ants; busy, busy little ants with no apparent purpose to the observer passing by from this altitude. And yet, when you live down there instead of in the plane, you learn the purpose, the dreams, the goals and ambitions and more. I wonder, what more would I learn if I lived with the ants?

How foolish it is for us so-called enlightened human beings to think that we are the only intelligent moral creatures on this planet. How on earth will we ever come to understand ourselves if we overlook the world that we live in? Just where is the divide between knowledge of ourselves and knowledge of the world we participate in? How could a single ant gain personal insight without standing back and witnessing the whole of the ant world? It is all too easy to just be so busy that we fail to take stock of the everyday everything that surrounds us–or is it just me? Do you notice the lives of all the creatures large and small that dwell with and near you? Do they matter? Do you think there is a lesson from the ants to all of us and if so what? What does it all mean anyway?

Temple Grandin Uses Autism to Understand Animals

"The amazing story of Dr. Temple Grandin's ability to read the animal mind, which has made her the most famous autistic woman on the planet." – BBC

Ann and I watched Temple's story on PBS. She's turned a severe disability into a strength — she's an expert on animal minds and adapting to autism. She's become famous and wealthy. She lives life on her own terms by being creative and courageous.

Parts 2 – 5





The Value of Struggle

The Parable of the Emperor Moth

Emperor Moth

A scientist was enamored by the glory and beauty of the Emperor Moth.

Its radiant colors, unique patterns and majestic wingspan inspired our scientist to study the moth. Carefully he watched a young caterpillar spin a cocoon and then he removed the cocoon to his laboratory where he could observe the process.

The day finally came that the small crawling caterpillar had become the elegant Emperor Moth and the scientist watched with great excitement as the Moth began to chew its way out of the cocoon. The tiny jaws of the moth chewed at the cocoon trying to exit, but failing it fell back time and again in what seemed to be exhaustion. The scientist watched as the moth worked and failed. He began to imagine the moth speaking to him, "Why don't you help me?"

The moth finally pushed its head out and began to work at pulling the body through the small hole. Each attempt seemed to fail. The progress was so slow that it was basically imperceptible. The scientist looked on beginning to feel guilty for not coming to the rescue of the moth.

The day was coming to an end and the progress was so fractional that the scientist finally could not hold back. With the spirit of a rescue worker, he took his tweezers and carefully opened the cocoon. The moth was free–but so badly deformed it couldn't fly and died soon thereafter.

Later our scientist learned, it is the struggle that shapes the body, forcing fluids out to the majestic wings, giving shape to the giant moth. Without the struggle, without the form resulting from the almost tortuous requirement to pull itself through a small opening in the cocoon, there is no Emperor Moth.

via Eldon Taylor