Friday, October 9, 2015

Army Amputee Challenges MISD Students to Push the Limits

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Smith explains how he became an amputee.
“How would you feel if a person with one arm beat you in Ping-Pong? But guess what? I bet I will.”

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Smith’s candor and confidence is what captivated his audience of students and staff at The Phoenix Academy. He kept the crowd smiling with his anecdotes, but there was a period in his life that wasn’t very bright. In fact, Smith said he didn’t know if he would live to see the next day.

In 2011, Smith said he was riding his motorcycle when a woman who was texting while driving hit him from behind. The 35-year-old was thrown off of his motorcycle over the road barrier and was hit by another oncoming vehicle.

The accident caused him to lose his arm, but not his fighting spirit. The Texas native has a heart of a soldier. He served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and was determined to continue to protect and serve his country. After months of rigorous rehabilitation, Sgt. 1st Class Smith became the first above-the-elbow amputee to be deemed fit for duty in the army.

“No matter what your injury is—physical, mental, emotional—do not allow that to stop you from doing what you want,” Smith told the students.

With that mindset, he has won many medals in the army and for athletic competitions. He said he is even trying out for the U.S. Olympic bobsled team.

Sgt. 1st Class Smith and Principal Regenia Crane.
Junior Zyrinka Maclam said Smith’s words were inspiring. She said she came from a similar background as Smith, and it was good to hear how far he had come.

“I didn’t have a lot of support growing up, so this allowed me to see that anything is possible,” said Maclam.

Smith ended his visit by encouraging students to get out of their comfort zone and use the doubt people may have in them as motivation to go beyond expectations.