An extraordinary life
Man born without arms offers inspiration to others
Thirteen-year-old Tawni Brenner walked into the Craig Middle School auditorium Tuesday excited only about the time away from class and the chance to be with friends.
An hour later, Brenner led students in a standing ovation for a man who had made her laugh and cry.
Nationally recognized moti–vational speaker Alvin Law spoke to students at Craig Middle School about their power to choose their futures and their ability to make their lives what they wanted them to be.
He spoke from experience.
Law, 45, was born without arms. He was one of 15,000 children whose limbs didn’t develop because his mother was prescribed the drug thalidomide, a popular treatment for morning sickness.
The drug caused some babies to be born without fingers and others without any limbs.
After he was born, Law’s mother asked that he be put up for adoption. He was adopted when he was 3 weeks old by a couple well into their 50s who Law describes as “extraordinary.”
A different way
When, as a child, Law began using his feet for hands, his mother encouraged him to continue.
“People seem to look at the things they don’t have instead of the things they do,” he said. “I don’t know why that is.”
Law grew up in a small town where nothing ever happened, and he couldn’t wait to get out.
“I want you to understand, when I was your age, it was the same,” he told students. “I got teased, probably more than you because I don’t have any arms, but I know some of you get teased, too.”
Law said he asked himself the same questions he said audience members ask themselves “Why? Why me? What did I do to deserve this?
“Do you ever feel that way? Ripped off? Ripped off by life?” he asked students.
Law also used humor to deliver his message. He told students to remember something when they’re looking at their parents as if they don’t have a clue: “For nearly a year, your parents dreamed of a perfect child — and they got you.”
Once he learned to use his feet as hands, Law stopped thinking of himself as handicapped, he said. He drives a standard vehicle, dresses himself, eats, cooks and plays the piano — despite having a teacher tell him his toes were too short to do so — and the drums.
“There’s nothing important that I can’t do,” he said.
A positive attitude, he said, comes when a person learns what they believe in and start to live it.
Being different makes a person special and unique, he said.
“Being different makes you someone people look up to and respect,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with being different.”
‘Anybody can make it’
Brenner, who didn’t have any idea what to expect before the presentation, was touched.
“Oh my gosh, it was great,” she said. “He isn’t that different.”
Law said he’s been judged his entire life because of his difference. He said he has learned not to care. But there were many days when he did, he said.
“I realized I can’t fix the world, but I can change what I do with my world,” he said. “I’m a real, live example that anybody can make it. Anybody.”
Law encouraged students to consider how they treat other people. It’s a message Brenner said she’ll take home with her.
Brandi Gourley, 14, also said she left the presentation a better person.
“My life has drastically changed in one day,” Gourley said. “This was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen; he’s an amazing man.”
Gourley said she learned from Law that outside appearances don’t matter.
“Everyone has something special, unique,” she said. “I’ll never forget him.”
Gourley stayed after all the other students left to get Law’s autograph — which, of course, he signed using his foot.
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Routt County is working with both Rio Blanco and Moffat counties and municipalities across northwestern Colorado to create an umbrella organization to better coordinate and pursue economic development in the region.