Could you imagine going into the doctor’s office and being told that you would never be able to walk again? How would you feel if you received this life altering news? Crushed? Devastated? Confused? Distraught? Shocked? If I was a betting woman, I would say that you would probably feel all of these emotions and then some. You’ve spent all of your life being able to run around whenever you felt the urge to do so. You could jump up and down with excitement or skip down the road with merriment after hearing thrilling news. You could dance and groove to the beat of your favorite songs with both of your legs, and now your doctor has just informed you that you will never be able to take another step again for as long as you live.

Yes you might seek other expert opinions, but if every doctor that you visited told you that you would never walk again then you would probably take the doctor at his or her word and resign yourself to a life of not being able to walk, and I wouldn’t blame you.

But what if I told you that there was a little girl from Bethlehem, Tennessee who was told by a doctor that she would never walk again. What if I told you that this little girl not only went on to walk again, but also went on to run again. What if I told you that she not only ran, but she ran so fast that she was able to win a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics. And what if I told you that she not only won a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics but also went on to win three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, making her the first African American woman to receive three gold medals at a single Olympics!

If these suppositions seem familiar to you it’s because they’re not theories at all, but are actually events from the life of a real woman-a woman, whose name was Wilma Rudolph.

Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely on June 23, 1940 to Ed and Blanche Rudolph. She was the 20th child out of her 22 siblings and was loved by her family. At age four, she contracted polio and was told by her doctor that she was never going to walk again. Wilma Rudolph and her mother did not let this doctor’s diagnosis keep them from believing that Wilma would be able to walk again. Wilma’s mother, along with the help of Wilma’s brothers and sisters, massaged Wilma’s legs four times a day with the hope that Wilma would one day be able to walk again. Wilma’s mother also drove over 90 miles once a week to take her daughter to physical therapy. After countless hours of leg massages and therapy visits, Wilma was able to walk with the assistance of a leg brace by the time she was 9, and by the time she was 12, Wilma was actually able to run around and play without the leg brace (https://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016444.html).

Just like many kids with older siblings, Wilma Rudolph decided that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her big sister. Her sister played basketball in high school, so Wilma went on to do the same thing. While in school, Wilma went on to become an all-state basketball player, which just so happened to attract attention from Ed Temple the Tennessee State track coach. Wilma trained with Ed and his college track team throughout her time in high school, and this dedication to running ended up paying off (https://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016444.html).

Sixteen year old Wilma Rudolph went to the 1956 Olympics and helped the U.S. Women’s track team win a bronze medal in the 4×100 meter relay. In the 1960 Olympics, Wilma won a gold medal in the 100 meter dash with a world-record time of 11.0 seconds. In the semi-finals of the 200 meter dash, she broke another world record with a time of 23.2 seconds. Going into the finals of the 200 meter sprint with the confidence of already holding a world record in this event, Wilma was able to win the gold with a time of24 seconds. In this 1960 Olympics, Wilma also helped bring home a gold medal for the U.S. Women’s 4×100 meter relay team with a winning time of 44.5 seconds, which was just 0.1 seconds short of the world record time that this same U.S. Women’s 4×100 meter relay team completed in the semifinals (http://www.biography.com/people/wilma-rudolph-9466552#pioneering-olympic-medalist).

At age four Wilma Rudolph believed in her own greatness. She had a dream, and this dream was that she was going to walk again. She dreamed that she could become a “normal” kid. If she didn’t believe in her own greatness, then she would have listened to what that doctor told her. If she didn’t believe in her dream she would have given up on ever trying to walk again.

Science is probably one of the most reliable forms of knowledge in our universe, and if Wilma Rudolph didn’t let scientific facts and a medical diagnosis stop her from believing in her dreams then you shouldn’t let anything, especially yourself, keep you from pursuing your dreams.

Positive thinker, if you dream of doing something then do it! Believing in your dream is half the battle. You can’t expect for that thing that you’ve always imagined yourself doing to ever happen if you yourself don’t believe that it could actually happen. If you can’t believe in your own greatness then you can never expect to be great. If you don’t believe that your dreams can ever come true then they won’t. All of the great mathematicians, scientists, philosophers, inventors, dancers, actors, musicians, writers, innovators, doctors, and lawyers throughout all of time realized that they would never be able to achieve their dreams if they didn’t believe in themselves first.

I encourage you, positive thinker, to follow the example of the great movers and shakers in our world and believe in yourself the same way that they believed in themselves. I challenge you to stop undervaluing your greatness and to start believing in the power of believing in your dreams.

Remember positive thinker: “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” – Wilma Rudolph

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