The following is a commentary on the article “Undaunted” that ESPN’s Rick Reilly published May 7, 2013. To see the article in its entirety, click here.
“Heart + Passion + Never Giving Up”
That’s what it takes to compete. A person who has those three characteristics can overcome all that life hands them. A person with those three traits can inspire others while repeatedly rising above all. Josh Ruchotzke is a person like that.
Josh is like any other 18-year-old high school senior. He goes to class, loves time with his friends, and has a passion for the diamond. Josh is one of the leaders on his varsity baseball team and as starting second baseman, is hitting .300 this season.
Did we mention he has four amputations?
This isn’t the story of some kid everyone feels sorry for or opponents ease up on. This is the story of a young man who despite how much life has tried to beat him down, continues to press onward.
Five years ago, Josh was almost killed by a staph infection. The bacteria was in his bloodstream and doctors figured the boy’s chances to survive were 5%. An emergency operation amputated both of Josh’s legs, his left hand, and the fingers on his right hand. This 13-year-old boy who dreamed of nothing but playing in the MLB suddenly had to face a life much different than he had planned. Josh was determined to still compete.
Rick Reilly writes that his first words out of surgery were, “Mom, no matter what happens, I HAVE to play baseball again.” So Josh set out to make it happen. He relearned to walk, catch a baseball with a custom glove, and swing a bat. Over and over and over again, Josh would practice every move needed to play his favorite sport. Bunt? Yea, he can do that. Turn two? Absolutely. He plays better than many of his fully-limbed opponents. And nothing will stop him from experiencing life to the fullest.
Sometimes life sucks. You are handed more than you believe you can handle. That is the moment when your commitment to competing is the only thing that gets you through. “Don’t give up what you want to do in life. Just because (something) happened to you, doesn’t mean you have to change,” Josh told Reilly.