“Do you need a ride?”
The question caught me off guard. Not because I didn’t have the need, but because of who it came from. Will Katz is the Director of the Small Business Development Center at KU and over the years I have met him several times. I have sought his feedback on how to make my blog profitable and if anyone would be interested in what I had to say.
Most recently I called to tell him that I wrote a book and to see if he had any suggestions about how to best get the word out. After he read some of my book, in addition to selling it, he also suggested I market myself as a speaker. The idea intrigued me, but I had absolutely no idea how to begin the process. Turns out Will is on the board of an organization called 1 Million Cups. Started by the Kaufman Foundation, there are many chapters throughout the country of this group of entrepreneurs. When people apply to present to the group, they are also invited to ask the group to help spread the word about their project or idea. I applied to speak, I got accepted. When I called Will to talk me through being nervous, he asked if he could take me to the event.
I was impressed. Not that he asked. Will is one of the nicest guys ever. I was impressed that he offered to give me a ride given that he had never done so before.
Everybody who knows me even a little knows that I spend my life surrounded by caregivers. I spend time training the people who work for me how I transfer and how I move my body. My employees learn many things like the best way to help me in and out of bed, in and out of the shower and how to correctly put my feet back on the pedals of my wheelchair when my body has a spasm and they fall off. And because the people who work for me know the things they know, they are the people I tend to ask to take me first if I need to go anywhere. It’s just easier that way. For everyone.
But on the particular morning that I was supposed to make a presentation to 1 Million Cups, all my caregivers had class. I did need a ride, and I took Will up on his offer. To me, it was such a gift. He was saying, “I know it will take extra time to get you where we are going but I am willing to adjust my schedule so that you can be where you want to be. And I am willing to ask the necessary questions so that I can help you through the process of moving from your wheelchair and into my car in the most comfortable way possible. I don’t expect you to do all of that independently and I am okay with the fact that you need some help. I am also willing to take the time to fold your wheelchair and get it into my car. Additionally, I will do all of that with a good attitude.” It was awesome!
Will showed up at my house at the designated time in a Tesla. We had so much fun! The presentation went well and the audience was extremely receptive. I sold six books and the pile of business cards I had on the table had dwindled considerably by the time I was ready to go.
Later in the afternoon, I sent Will an email to sincerely thank him for everything that he had done to make the event possible for me. I got the following response.
It was definitely a fabulous day!
I sure appreciate this e-mail. Thank you SO much. But I’d hasten to point out that YOU were doing ME a favor! For One Million Cups to be relevant, we have to provide content…and you were the content provider!
And you provided amazing, educational, and even inspirational content! It was just perfect from start to finish! Thank you SOOOO much! I’ve received plenty of feedback about it already.
You know, I was a little bit surprised at how much of an…experience…it was to help with transportation. Intellectually, I understood it would take a little bit of time on both sides of the event. I was mostly prepared for that. But it’s one thing to understand it intellectually and another thing entirely to experience in real life the difference between my typical stand-up-grab-phone-jump-into-car and the real barriers you must have with transportation.
So, again, I’m the one who owes YOU the debt of gratitude for allowing me to share an experience with you.
You have an AMAZING message to share with the world! You do a GREAT job of sharing it, too! I can understand why you would be nervous about it, and I think it’s a great act of courage to do what you did. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Not many people tell me what they experience when they help me do something. I was honored that Will chose to be so real with me.
There are many times that my disability creates some barriers in my life. Sometimes that gets me down. But more often than not, people surprise me by proving to me one important truth.
When there is a Will, there is a way!