Life’s Great Possibilities Await For People With Disabilities Who Find The Courage To Shine

Editor’s Note: Thomas Exler, the president of the Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community (ABC) , also is the chairman and founder of Courage to Shine, an organization created to provide information for others, like Exler, who have found ways to overcome their problems and become successful people. As Exler explains, “I was lucky to find role models who showed me that nothing’s impossible for people like me. But not everyone has the opportunity to meet others who have led highly visible, successful and rewarding lives in spite of their disabilities. That’s why we created Courage to Shine – to introduce individuals to other people with similar challenges and to provide a forum and a webpage where individuals can find role models who have demonstrated that there are no limits for people with physical challenges.” Part 2 of a 5-part series.

Courage To Shine allows individuals with similar disabilites to connect and learn from one another.

Courage To Shine allows individuals with similar disabilites to connect and learn from one another.

Exler: Courage to Shine, a new project we created, was originally created to be an awards program to honor outstanding people, especially those with bladder exstrophy. We wanted to honor accomplishments in society and in the greater world. As we developed the idea, we thought that a better approach would be to feature great young people who had overcome their medical problems and could show the way, so that others could follow in their footsteps. We know there are great possibilities for individuals, in spite of their medical disabilities, who have the courage to try, once they know others have succeeded.

We’ve decided we want to feature people on our webpage who’ve overcome many types of disabilities, particularly adults born with urinary defects. We want to feature people who haven’t let their medical conditions prevent them from being successful. We also want others to see that there are role models, all over the world, who not only have the same medical conditions as these individuals, but also who haven’t  let their condition prevent them from being successful. Some examples of these successful people are Misty Blue Foster and Jamie Holmes – two people who have been determined not to let their disabilities hold them back from being successful and reaching their goals. We want to use the Courage to Shine webpage to find people all over the world who have refused to let their medical disabilities keep them from being successful.  Many of these people have used the challenges they’ve faced to catapult themselves into successful lives. By reading their stories and understanding what they’ve done, you too can believe that you can capture your dreams.

Courage to Shine wants to change the way the next generation of people with disabilities look at life and inform them about what they can accomplish with the lives they’ve been given. By utilizing the Internet, you can discover others in the world who have the same medical problem you have and a world of information about that problem is at your fingertips. We want to show people with bladder exstrophy that there are great role models and successful people in the world with the same condition. You can find people with bladder exstrophy and spina bifida who have gone on to live highly successful and productive lives. On the Courage to Shine webpage, we can showcase these great role models who’ve overcome their medical adversities. We have the chance to show the next generation that they can have a successful, productive, useful, happy lives like these role models, if they have the courage to go after their dreams.

Tom Exler shares his story and motivates others with similar disabilities.

Tom Exler shares his story and motivates others with similar disabilities.

Here’s how Courage to Shine works. If you want to be a world famous bull rider, check out the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events or  read magazines about bullriders. But if you have bladder exstrophy or spina bifida, where do you find information on bullriders who’ve lead successful lives with these medical problems?

Ostomy surgery didn't stop Tony Bell from professional bull riding.

Ostomy surgery didn't stop Tony Bell from professional bull riding.

On the Courage to Shine webpage, you can meet some people like Misty Blue Foster or Jamie Holmes and also many others on the UroMed webpage and learn about other resources and more information about these people. Courage To Shine wants to deliberately search for and identify these great individuals who have overcome medical problems and have demonstrated that if you have the courage, you too can shine and make significant contributions to society.

One of my friends, Tony Bell, had ostomy surgery at birth and is professional bullrider. You can find more information here. Tony, the winner of a regional award for bullriding, also was a national winner in 2009. He didn’t let his medical condition stand in the way of fulfilling his dream to become a professional bullrider and compete competitively for 2 years on the circuit. Many people believed that because of Tony’s condition he’d never ride a bull or be competitive in the sport. However, what we’re beginning to see is that more and more people are breaking down barriers believed to be impossible for people with certain disabilities.

We want to tell the stories of the people who’ve made the impossible possible for all those who have the courage to shine. Living life with a medical disability does require a good bit of courage. Being able to ride a 2000 pound bull takes a big dose of courage that most able bodied people don’t have. However, Tony Bell has found the courage to shine, and many other individuals around the world also have found that courage. We want to meet these people, tell their stories and help others to see what the future can hold for them.

Next: Teaching “You Can” Helps Children to Find the Courage to Shine

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at

About UroMed Catheters
Headquartered in Suwanee, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of single-use catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, closed system catheters, condom catheters, pediatric catheters and continence care products. UroMed is nationally accredited for Medicare reimbursement and most state Medicaid plans, and partners with private health insurance providers and health plans to provide patients with single-use catheters, catheter kits and incontinence products. UroMed also has seven staffed regional offices located in Boston, MA; Columbia, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Carlsbad, CA; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, VA; and Baton Rouge, LA; enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order. For more information, please visit or call 1-800-841-1233.

3 Responses to Life’s Great Possibilities Await For People With Disabilities Who Find The Courage To Shine

  1. Pingback: Courage Is The Key To Overcome Fear With Thomas Exler « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

  2. Reblogged this on Courage to Shine™ and commented:
    From UroMed Hometown Heroes – Originally posted on January 26, 2012

  3. Pingback: Courage Is The Key To Overcome Fear With Thomas Exler

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