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A Sioux Falls Blind Martial Artist Triumphs Over Adversity

 In spite of his blindness, Chad Chalmers of Sioux Falls knew what he wanted and nothing was going to get in his way.  Chad gradually lost his sight because of diabetes.  “I am considered legally blind right now.  Sure, there are things I can’t do; yet there are many things I can do.  I just do it in a different way.”  Chad shared his testimony in my book: “I Love Life: Stories of Hope, Encouragement and Faith.”

 Chad admits the blindness has affected him both physically and mentally.  “It was tough.  But, I don’t think about it very much.  I’ve really learned to use my other senses and, quite honestly, it’s as if I never lost my eyesight. In a way, I really feel like a blessed man since I had my eyesight earlier in life.  Even though I can’t see today, I have visual pictures in my mind of so many positive experiences.   Since I’ve been training in martial arts the past four years, my whole attitude about life has become much more positive.  My energy is overflowing.”

 Did the blindness ever discourage Chad?  “I’ve always considered myself a determined person.  When I’m confronted with obstacles, I do my best to overcome them.  With a positive attitude, I’m pretty much unstoppable.  There are some people with disabilities who say they can’t do anything.   I’m not one of them.”

 And that was especially true when Chad set a goal for himself:  becoming a black belt in martial arts!  “Ever since I can remember, I’ve been interested in the sport.  I’ve known people who have taken classes and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.   I think you have a whole new appreciation for life when you begin the training that becomes a way of life.”

 Despite the physical stamina required in martial arts, Chad was determined to achieve the rank of black belt.  That’s just what happened.  But, instead of resting on his laurels, he has already obtained his second black belt in Taekwondo.  “No matter what if, you don’t give up, you can accomplish what you set out to do.  It may not be what you originally intended to achieve.  But, you keep moving forward.  Without goals, you definitely limit yourself.  That’s something I refuse to do.   Sure, I am blind.  I’ll never become a pilot or drive a car.  But, I know the sky’s the limit in martial arts.”

 Was there ever a point when Chad thought about giving up?  “No, I never gave it one thought.  Thanks to the support of the people around me, I was even more intent on achieving success in martial arts.  If I had given up, I surely would have regretted it.  Aside from letting myself down, I would have disappointed the people who stuck with me through some really difficult times. 

 That’s one thing Chad won’t do.  “My attitude in life has always been—if there’s a will, there’s a way.  If you want something bad enough, regardless of what it is, you’ve got to focus all your energy in getting it.   Maybe you don’t think you’re quite as good as other people or it didn’t turn out the way you wanted.   My philosophy is this—never give up no matter how bad things seem.  It will get better.”

 In other words, perseverance pays off. “Yes, yes it does!”

 As Chad was telling me his story, I recalled this quote from Calvin Coolidge.  The message illustrates the power of perseverance regardless of one’s situation in life.  “Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance.  Talent will not.  Genius will not.  Education will not.  Perseverance and determination alone are omnipotent.”



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