You start life as an abandoned child, spending your first three years in a Chinese orphanage learning to walk on your ankle as a way to deal with your clubfoot.
There are multiple surgeries. There are years of pain. You come to America where a loving family nurtures you, but there is bullying outside that home because you look different in so many ways.
Yet there is a determination that shows through even on your young child’s face. It moves you forward despite the limp and the 3 1/2-size difference between your feet and, too often, the pain.
It propels you past your peers and makes you an elite athlete. It makes you a top softball batter who is a Division I college prospect.
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Or let’s look at another set of circumstances: You live in a community founded by missionaries more than 300 years ago, but where more than one in every three people lives in poverty and where fewer than one in 10 of your peers is ready for college.
The streets are rough and there’s always temptation to do the easy and the wrong.
Yet there is something inside you and there are educators who care. They teach you to learn as you hone your abilities to run and jump.
One of you is better, and one of the best the nation has ever seen. He is hurt and falls from competition.
But there are others who are also strong and carry on. For the sixth time you prove your troubled community is the best in the state.
Kiri Jiaying Evans and the Cahokia Senior High School track and field team carry great burdens and could find many reasons to settle for less, but still they excel.
So next time you face a barrier or an ache, ask yourself if it is real or a convenient excuse. Ask yourself how Kiri or the teens from Cahokia would handle it.