Dig deep. Keep-a-goin. Hang in there. Parents try to teach their children those critical lessons, first as toddlers learning to walk, then as first graders learning to read, and well beyond. Perseverance is the character strength that bridges the gap from inspiration to execution. “I think I can, I think I can,” the Little Engine That Could reminds us, until he could.
This month our Heroes section features one such poster child for perseverance: Louis Braille. Blinded in a pre-school accident, young Louis never accepted that he would not be able to read. If he could not see the page, he wondered, wasn’t there another way to bring its meaning to life? This nineteenth century French boy, who thought he could, ended up developing the system of raised dots that allowed the world’s blind to read. His perseverance through his own childhood adversity opened doors not just for himself, but for all the world’s blind.
If only we had some of that spirit today. But wait – we do! Look at twenty-three-year-old Marissa Koscielski. As an eighth-grade gymnastics student in Columbus, Ohio, Marissa suffered a back injury that left her paralyzed on the left side from the waist down. Surgery at the Mayo clinic could not restore her functioning, and she was told a wheel chair would be her fate. That prognosis she refused to accept. Stubborn by nature and persistent in adversity, Marissa began designing her own equipment to train herself to walk and run again. In a long trial and error process, she succeeded, and developed a walker that she now realizes has applicability for many others who suffer mobility challenges – particularly lower limb amputees.
Marissa has gone on to study Math and Neuroscience at the University of Notre Dame. But eager to help others get back on their feet again, her graduate work found her starting a company called Enlighten Mobility. Find out more about her extraordinary story and how one young woman, through perseverance and hope, has become an entrepreneurial force for good.