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Perseverance is a Necessary Ingredient to Fulfilling Dreams

Copyright © 2006, Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. - Rossetti Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Ideas come and go. Some come from our thoughts and some come from other people. As we share thoughts with others and analyze them there may be some gems.

Looking back, one great idea was given to me in August 2004 by Phillip Popovich, Ph.D., director of the Center for Brain and Spinal Cord Repair at The Ohio State University.  I was at a lunch with a group of OSU spinal cord injury researchers and Leigh Briggs, Associate Director of Development, to discuss how to bring more attention to Spinal Cord Injury research. Since I had established a SCI research fund at OSU in 2001, the researchers wanted to discuss funding ideas.

Popovich suggested we have a promotion during the next OSU vs. Penn State football game. He suggested that we invite Adam Taliaferro, a Penn State player injured September 23, 2000 and initially treated for his SCI at OSU. He also suggested that I as Ms. Wheelchair Ohio 2004, join Taliaferro on the football field since both of us had been treated at OSU. This promotion could bring recognition to the SCI research team.

That idea was a good one! All in the room decided to support it and take action. Briggs contacted the athletic office to see if we could have time in one of the quarter breaks for the home game in October 2004. After a brief discussion, he was told that there was no time on the schedule during that game. More planning time was needed.

Good ideas need to collide with good timing. This idea had to wait until OSU played Penn State in Columbus, Ohio again, in two more years on September 23, 2006.

Through a series of events, I was able to meet the OSU football coach, Jim Tressel, at a fundraiser and had lunch with him. Several months later, I went to his office to get his autograph on a football that I was giving a friend. He invited me into his office to chat and ended up inviting me to speak to the team about how to handle adversity. On the night of the speech, August 22, 2005, Tressel and I had dinner and I asked him to support the SCI promotion by inviting Adam Taliaferro to Columbus for the September 2006 game.

Tressel agreed to make the contact and spoke with Adam’s father about the event. Soon I had word that Adam was ready to talk with me and in October 2005 I called him and he agreed to come to Columbus for the Penn State game. The game was to be on the sixth anniversary of his injury.

Plans were progressing to get the support of the OSU athletic department. Then on April 14, 2006 Tyson Gentry, one of the OSU football players that was in my audience eight months before, suffered a spinal cord injury during practice.  As an exercise during my presentation, the football players each wrote a get well card of encouragement to newly injured patients. Ironically, Gentry ended up getting his own card of encouragement while he was in intensive care.

I visited Gentry at the OSU rehabilitation center in July 2006 and asked if he would also come on the field with Taliaferro and me. Gentry agreed and I went to Tressel’s office to discuss the promotion again and ask for his active support with the athletic department. Tressel offered to meet with the athletic director that week to discuss the event. A month later, permission was obtained and the details for the halftime event on the 50 yard line were outlined.

Game day finally arrived! Gentry and Taliaferro, two football players from rival schools, met not as competitors but as supporters for a cure for spinal cord injury.

The 105,000 people in the stadium and the millions that watched the event on their televisions do not know how long the planning took for that one minute announcement. The three of us proudly strolled on the field with the representatives of the OSU rehabilitation and research centers.  The standing ovation was deafening as the two football heroes waved back at the fans.

As I reflect on this day, I am reminded that good ideas don’t fade from our memories. Some ideas sift through a filter in our minds and we decide if they are worth pursuing. Those worth pursuing take initiative on our part. We need to ask ourselves: Why not me? Who else is better able to execute the idea? Whose help and support will be needed?

Ideas turn into dreams. Dreams are pursued by accomplishing goals - one at a time. Some dreams take time.

Rosemarie Rossetti, PhD

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