Thank you to the Cleveland Jewish News for this wonderful story as I get ready to travel to Ohio this weekend to work with Cleveland...
A special thanks to Paula Tutman and WDIV Local 4 for their interest in the work of Achilles International as they begin working with the...
Richard Bernstein is no stranger to tough situations. As someone who is visually impaired, he’s had to face numerous challenges in life–challenges that might make...
September 13, 2010
A. J. Filippis – Presentation of Courage Award:
I also am a board member of the Athletes with Disabilities Network, which was put together of two organizations; and that’s the Athletes with Disabilities Hall of Fame, which my father started 12 years ago to recognize disabled athletes. Those of you who haven’t experienced seeing the Paralympics games or Special Olympics see these individuals that work twice as hard as you and I do every day just to achieve their goals.
And this award really is to recognize an individual who does just that, who has done just that. We were talking in the hall, and he kept saying, and I’m sure he’ll talk about it a little bit, that it was really my father who drove that. He felt like sports changed his life when he lost both of his legs at the age of 12, and sports obviously had a huge effect on his life.
So, with this, I want to bring up and recognize the Wright and Filippis Courage Award Winner this year, Richard Bernstein.
Richard Bernstein - Acceptance Speech:
This week, I got a call from a young mother who told me, “I’m a religious person. I believe so strongly in Hashem, I believe so strongly in God. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, but I don’t know what to do, because my child was born blind. I feel totally and completely devastated. I don’t know what the future is going to hold, and I don’t know what is ultimately going to happen.”
This being the Jewish new year, she indicated to me that her one prayer, was that her child could live an ordinary life.
As I thought about our conversation, and as I thought about her words, I thought back to my best friend Tony Filippis, who got me involved in athletic competitions. I thought about how Tony encouraged me by saying, “Athletics will change your life. Athletics will enhance your soul. Athletics will change who you are.” I thought about my friend Tony, who every day when I would speak with him, we would take on another challenge. Tony was so proud after each and every athletic competition.
After competing and completing 12 marathons, and in the past year completing an Ironman competition in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, I was able to convey to this young mother, the message that we take from tonight’s inductees and to all of us who enjoy athletics, is that athletic competition, athletic sport, is what allows for extraordinary things to happen. It’s what allows for extraordinary things to take place in each and every one of our lives.
For ultimately, what athletic competition teaches us, is the incredible distinction between the body and the soul. The body will experience tremendous pain, tremendous hardship, tremendous difficulty, but what every athlete will tell you, whether they’re competing in a marathon, whether it’s an ironman, whether it’s a swimmer, whether it’s a football player, a hockey player, a basketball player, no matter what that athletic competition will be, is that what every athlete knows is that when your body experiences tremendous pain, tremendous agony, tremendous hardship, when your body feels as though it cannot move another step or do another thing, it’s ultimately your spirit, it’s ultimately your soul that’s what takes over.
That’s what allows you to achieve. That’s what allows you to ultimately make it. That’s what athletics represents. That’s what athletics means.
As I conclude my comments here tonight, the reason that we celebrate athletes, the reason that we celebrate sports, is because it symbolizes life in its essence.
Athletic competition is pain, is challenge, is struggle, is sorrow - while at the same time, triumph, euphoria, admiration, and ultimately overall spiritual survival. Athletics brings out the best in each and every one of us and in our community.
So as we turn back to this young mother who had this question, who had this prayer, it’s through athletics, it’s through competition, it’s through endurance, it’s through perseverance, that you recognize that you’ll cross that line, you’ll reach that finish, and no matter what your circumstances, no matter what your situation, you will find your way home and achieve that which is what we all look for, a sense of true, genuine, and lasting inner peace.
Frank Beckmann - Closing Remarks:
I’ll tell you what, when the Hall of Fame induction class stands up to applaud you, Richard Bernstein, you know that you’ve hit it on the head with everybody here. Thank you so much for the inspiring words and for spreading that to people who can overcome whatever is placed in front of them.
Visually Impaired Athlete Sues USA Triathlon
Richard Bernstein Challenges ABA for Discrimination Against Blind Law Students
Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Honors Richard Bernstein with Courage Award
Attorney Richard Bernstein Named Leader in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly
Victory! Disabled Win Access to U-M Stadium