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The Power within Each of Us: An Exploration of the Importance of Parental Love

Dee Russell
Report on a session from the 2003 LLLI Conference
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 5, September-October 2003, pp. 176

In the early 1960s, long before warning labels began to appear on drugs, 7,000 women were given the drug, thalidomide, to ease their morning sickness. Unfortunately, this drug turned out to be nothing more than a sedative and ended up causing severe birth defects in children whose mothers had taken the drug in their first trimester of pregnancy.

At the LLLI Conference, motivational speaker Alvin Law presented his session "The Power within Each of Us: An Exploration of the Importance of Parental Love." Those of us in the audience were both inspired and entertained by his presentation.

Alvin was born in Saskatchewan, Canada without arms. His birth mother, who had taken thalidomide, was persuaded that the Canadian government could better care for her armless child than she, and so relinquished parental rights, and he was given up for adoption. Adoptive parents Hilda and Jack Law encouraged Alvin to do everything for himself, and instilled in him the motto "There's no such word as can't" as a motivational trigger for him. With that attitude, he was able to make seemingly impossible things possible.

One day, after baby Alvin's propped bottle slipped out of his mouth in his crib, Hilda discovered him holding it himself using his toes to grasp it! From then on, little Alvin learned to do almost everything with his feet, from coloring with crayons, threading a needle and sewing on buttons, to screwing and unscrewing nuts and bolts. As he got older, his tasks included mowing the lawn (pushing with his chest), shoveling snow, taking out the garbage (grasping it with his mouth), washing the dishes, and becoming an award winning trombonist.

Alvin impressed us with his attitude and explained why he doesn't believe in terms such as "handicapped." It was a joy to share in his excitement when as a child, he "made" the Little League team. We believed him when he said how proud he was to go to every game and sit on the bench, as he relived his childhood dream with us.

He entertained us on the piano with his rendition of "Chopsticks" with one mistake ("hard to play the piano with chunky toes"), to his second flawless piece at the end "Ode to the Old Bag Who Said My Toes Weren't Long Enough to Play the Piano," when we realized that the mistake in "Chopsticks" was deliberate.

We were also given an exercise in perception. While we closed our eyes, he played the snare drum. When we opened them, he had us think about how when our eyes were closed, he sounded like any other drummer who we would assume to be playing with hands. It was only when we saw him actually performing that our minds had to readjust what we were actually seeing to what we "thought" we had been hearing.

Alvin helped us see how supportive parents can encourage their children to do anything. It's a matter of being persistent and willing to make mistakes before the answer is found. Alvin now speaks professionally to over 150,000 people a year. Those of us who heard him at the LLLI Conference were surely motivated, awed, and left with a new realization of the power each of us has within ourselves to overcome life's obstacles, and to encourage our families.

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