Article by Randy Kitch (1969)
Disclaimer: The following was transcribed from the Capper Foundation Archives. The choice of words used at the time this was written may not reflect current Capper Foundation inclusive language and views.
The Future of a Handicapped Person — and the Will Power (1969)
by Randy Kitch
This article will present to you the feelings of a handicapped person and the thoughts he has in life. My name is Randy Kitch.
I am afflicted with cerebral palsy. I cannot use my hands and my speech isn’t developed enough to make people understand me. However, that does not mean I can’t communicate with people.
I am fortunate to have control of my feet because I can use them like hands. Since I am unable to communicate verbally with people, my feet have to serve as my means of communication. Now that you know a little bit about my handicap, I would like for you to read this article and to give thought to what I am saying. My objective is to let people all over the nation know that physically handicapped people are as normal on the inside as the normal person.
A great number of people have wrong ideas about handicapped individuals. People think just because a person is crippled he has nothing to live for, but they are dead wrong. Of course, it is hard to go through life with a handicap that will limit one’s ideas about the things he may be able to do. He gets discouraged. He goes through a stage when he’d rather be dead, and then, someone comes into his life and changes his whole world. That someone may be his brother, sister, mother, father or a friend who may say something to make him get back on the road to overcome his handicap.
That is the huge mountain that the handicapped person must get over. When he does get over that great mountain it is the greatest feeling he could ever hope for. Getting over that mountain means he has accepted his handicap and he can go out into the world without being scared of people thinking he is a silly nut out of the Twilight Zone. Now that huge mountain is 100 miles behind him and he is prepared to climb the next hill he comes upon.
The handicapped person is just another person in the world who has the same freedoms as the normal person has, or should we say normal? Everyone on the face of this earth has a handicap of some kind or another. Normal people tend to hide their handicaps inside their bodies while those affected physically expose their handicaps on the outside. I sometimes wonder if normal people aren’t more handicapped. Why do I say this? Well, some people look at life through closed doors while the physically handicapped person has to keep his doors wide open at all times so that he can jump at the right time to get to his goal. If not, he may miss the chance of his lifetime.
A good education is very important to a handicapped person because it can build his mind and skills. In today’s world, brains are getting to be the most important thing that a person can have. I’m not saying that a good physical body isn’t important by any means, but without brains how could you tell your body what to do, when to stop working, when to go to bed, and when to eat. Without brains you couldn’t solve problems. Every one of us knows this but we sometimes don’t think about the things we couldn’t do without our minds.
I think everyone on the face of this earth should develop his mind more than anything else. Education is the one big step in the right direction. If a handicapped person is intelligent, no matter what his condition is, he can usually figure out some way to get the job done. No matter how hard a job it may be he can usually get it done. There are some cases when he can’t but at least he knows he has tried, and trying is the hardest part of it. “Trying” is another huge mountain he has to conquer.
I am just now getting to the heart of my article — will power. Will power is another important factor that every person in this world has to have and to maintain. However, the handicapped person needs it more than anybody else. Why? because if he does not have the will power to try to make something out of himself, well, he is out of luck. There’s no hope for him because he doesn’t think he can do it, and if he looks at it that way, he won’t.
One thing that really upsets me is when a person says to a handicapped person, “YOU CANNOT DO THAT, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO DO THAT BECAUSE OF YOUR HANDICAP.” Then the handicapped person gets discouraged. They keep on arguing about the subject until the handicapped person says, “LET ME TRY,” and the normal person frowns and walks away.
About two years ago, I had it in my mind to make a fishing pole holder. I told my parents about this and they looked at me as if I were a nut. After they had recovered from the shock, they said that it was impossible for me to make a fishing pole holder, but I knew I could, so I started arguing with them. Finally, I said, “I can at least try, can’t I?” They looked at me for a minute and then said all right but in their minds they knew I couldn’t complete the job, or thought they did. I told them what I needed, a piece of board, a hanger and a drill. I went down to the basement and started to work. First, I drilled a hole in the piece of board, then I bent the hanger to a certain shape and put the hanger into the hole in the board. My job was completed, now to see if it worked. I asked my dad to bring a fishing pole downstairs. He sat it in the holder and a look of disbelief came over his face. The next day we went fishing to try out my holder. Much to my disappointment it didn’t work so great, oh, it held the pole all right but every time I touched it, it would fall off.
The reason I told you about this case is that my parents did not believe that I could produce what I really wanted to produce and if I hadn’t kept on fighting for what I believed in, I would have lost the cause of my purpose. All a person needs is a chance to prove to the people and to himself that he can do almost anything if he has the will power and the drive to carry it through.
The future if a handicapped person is all up to him. Whether he wants to fight or give up. There is some kind of a purpose for every person in this world; there has to be, because God would not have put us on this planet without a reason. Somewhere out there, there is a job waiting for a handicapped person. All he needs is the will power to go out and look for it. That means getting backing from people who realize that he is human and can do things to support himself of his family if he does get married. We have to get people to look at our point of view.
Sure we’re crippled, so what? Does that mean we can’t enjoy life? Does that mean we can’t be employed? It may not be the greatest job in the world, but we would not be sitting on our cans and we would be helping our country. All we need is a little bit of support from you and we will be out of the woods.
Is it possible for a handicapped person to get married? Of course, he is a human being just like the rest of you. When and if he does get married, he has a better chance to know where he is headed for. He needs someone who is right by his side every minute to give him support and to let him know that he is needed. It is difficult for a handicapped person to find a wife that can love him for what he is on the inside and not what he looks like on the outside. If he does find a girl that will accept him for what he is, then he is the luckiest guy in the world.
I am just about at the end of my article, but I want to say one more thing. If people all over the world would stop and look at a handicapped person, they would see that he is not any different than the so-called normal person. If people will just realize that a handicapped person can and will be able to find a place in the world if he has your help. Your help is very important, so, open your eyes and realize that he is a human being. Don’t feel sorry for him, just treat him like you do anyone else.
It is a hard, rough road to travel on, but a handicapped person will get to the end of that road if he has the Will Power. With your help and his determination, he will eventually come upon a nice, smooth road that he will travel over until he dies.