Representing people with traumatic spinal cord injuries, I have learned to see them not as "cripples stuck in wheelchairs" but as survivors valiantly striving to get on with their lives despite a harsh new reality. Every one of them has inspired me.
Among the most inspiring is former metro Atlanta resident Alyson Roth, who became a paraplegic in an an automobile crash the summer before she was to have begun her senior year at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. She returned the next year to complete her degree, became a teacher, earned her master’s degree, moved to California on her own, and participated in Third World mission trips.
Today Alyson is an inspirational speaker, and participates in a program to provide affordable wheelchairs to the poorest of the poor in less developed countries. Last week she was crowned "Ms. Wheelchair California." On April 13th, Alyson will appear on national television as a contestant on "The Price is Right."
I believe that God has great plans for Alyson. As I see her valiantly moving forward to serve others rather than wallowing in self pity, which would be so easy to do, I am reminded of this poem, attributed to an unknown Confederate soldier:
I asked God for strength
that I might achieve;
I was made weak,
that I might learn to obey;
I asked for health,
that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity,
that I might do better things;
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power,
that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness,
that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for
— but everything I had hoped for.
Ken Shigley is currently Secretary of the nearly 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia. He is a trial attorney in Atlanta, who has been listed as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), among the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale). A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury and burn injury cases.