Occasionally, a special person comes along that changes the world in an amazing way. Palmer Thompson is just that person.
Palmer was born with spina bifida, it is a birth defect in which there is an incomplete closing of the spine and the membranes around the spine during early development of the pregnancy. But even with spina bifida, Palmer rolls through his day with the efficiency that the top CEO’s of fortune 500 companies can only dream about. He moves throughout his day with a smile, and there is something about him that has made it possible for the children on his teams or in his school to just see Palmer and not his wheelchair. Hayden Vix, one of Palmer’s basketball teammates said, “He is one of my best friends, and he is a really good part of our team.”
Many successful people see challenges as opportunities. They even coin the term “opportunity clock” instead of alarm clock. This is a great way to get your mind in the right place to attack the day. I have listened to many motivational speakers in my life, and I have been asked on many occasions to speak to different athletic teams and business teams myself. There is one common theme in motivational speaking, you are trying to change bad habits into good habits. Teach people to become “taskmasters.” Help them to “DECIDE” to be great. The most “not normal” part of Palmer is that he just involuntarily does what the most successful people in our country decide to do.
His typical school day is filled with the same tasks that most children have in their day. It just takes Palmer a bit longer to complete the tasks in a wheelchair. He wakes at 6:45 a.m. every morning and preps for the day. Like other kids his age, he gets dressed and eats breakfast and stocks his bag with the supplies he needs for the day. He then makes his bed and tidies up his room, brushes his teeth, and leaves for school.
After school he attends physical therapy, then practices sports with his brothers (ping pong, hoops, or street hockey). He eats dinner, then heads off to his brothers’ hockey or his own basketball game or practice in the evening. When he arrives home, he must go to the bathroom again, only this time it is a little different. Without being too descriptive, we’ll just say that Palmer clears himself out. This takes 60-90 minutes. The Thompsons share that instead of this just being a time-consuming frustrating part of his evening, he rolls up a desk and does his homework. After that, he brushes his teeth, says his prayers, and goes to sleep.
Palmer plays basketball, hockey, golf, and hunts. His favorite teams are the Calgary Flames, Miami Heat, Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings. His basketball coach, Tanner Vix, says, “He works hard, in sprints he works hard and tries to stay with his teammates, his friends have his back, and he has theirs.” One of Palmer’s other teammates said, “He works hard and practices hard, he also is a great passer.”
His teacher at school Carol Vix said, “Knowing Palmer has changed my life. Being his teacher was more than a blessing, it was a gift. He never complains. Ever. He smiles and laughs and absolutely does not let life get him down. He has a million reasons to complain or be down, but that’s not Palmer. He blesses everyone that knows him.”
Many would say that Palmer is amazing how he “overcomes.” That may be amazing, but maybe not so amazing in a world where we are fighting to get people to see the soul of a person rather than their appearance. Palmer’s ability to just be himself and his daily outlook on life is doing just that. He is changing the lives of those around him, showing people greatness can come from anywhere. You have probably seen the signature line in many emails, or you have it in your own, “Carpe Diem and/or Seize the Day!” Palmer doesn’t see challenges that he must overcome every day, he doesn’t have to have a conversation with himself about overcoming these challenges, he just sees the day and lives it out with a smile on his face.