No Mountain Is Too High To Climb When You Have Courage

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 4 of a 5-part series.

Courage to Shine was created to help people who have medical challenges see that the only walls between where we are, and where we want to go, are the walls we put up.

Breaking down walls and overcoming obstacles is what Courage to Shine is all about.

Breaking down walls and overcoming obstacles is what Courage to Shine is all about.

Once, I heard a speaker say, “When I became paralyzed, I didn’t spend much time thinking about the 1,000 things I couldn’t do. I began to think about the things I could do, and what a wonderful life I would have if I did those things,  instead of worrying about the ones I couldn’t do.” A wall or a mountain simply presents an opportunity to learn another way to get over an obstacle that maybe no one else has discovered yet. A wall is an opportunity to challenge your creativity, your ability to innovate and adapt, and your chance to see just how strong your work ethic really is.

Through these processes, you’ll do unbelievable things and accomplish unbelievable feats. We can prove that what I’m telling you is the truth when you hear positive stories and check out Courage to Shine. There’s always a way to solve a problem, and just because no one else has been able to solve that problem, doesn’t mean that you can’t. A man once said, “The only things in life worth doing are the things that seem to be impossible.” If we can show people with medical challenges that greatness is possible, and that there are others like them, who have obtained greatness, then we can change the lives of the medically challenged forever. A medical problem shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not find and develop the greatness that’s within you.

Tom Exler believes that people with disabilities can be just as great and successful as anyone else.

Tom Exler believes that people with disabilities can be just as great and successful as anyone else.

Often people don’t achieve their potential in life simply because no one has told them they can. My experience has been that the people who face medical challenges and still obtain greatness can do that, because others in their lives have told them they can. Again, that’s what Courage to Shine is all about–telling other people (not only in this country but around the world) that their medical conditions aren’t limiting factors  nor excuses for not becoming all they want to be in life. We don’t have disabilities; rather we have new opportunities and challenges that allow us to do things in a different way than others. Isn’t that really what success is all about –overcoming difficulties? None of us really have a disability. We have challenges to overcome. If we overcome the challenges that these medical problems present to us, we can have whatever we want and are willing to work for. If I have a disability but don’t consider my medical condition a disability, then I can see it as an opportunity to overcome a challenge in my life.

I knew a man named who was on the USA basketball team in the Barcelona, Spain Paralympics. After he became paralyzed, he climbed a mountain with just his hands. There are plenty of people who can do things I know I can’t do, and they inspire me to do all that I can. This guy walked 100 yards on his hands on very rough terrain just to get to go down a mountain slide. Before he slid down, he handed me a gold medal that he had won in Barcelona and asked me, “How about holding this, so I don’t lose it while I go down the slide?” Now you’re never going to convince a man like that there’s anything he can’t do. And when I see someone like this man do the things that he does on grit, guts, determination and hard work, I look at my medical problem and say, “Tom, you really don’t have any problems at all.”

Last year, I went to Iceland with Misty Blue Foster. Before we went, I had been corresponding with a young man named Ágúst Kristján Steinarrsson who had ulcerative colitis that went undiagnosed for years, and eventually turned into colon cancer. He had surgery when he was 30, but he never lost his dream to become a mountain climber. I received a video of him climbing mountains, jumping off mountains and into lakes and roasting marshmallows inside a volcano. This video was the craziest one I’d ever seen in my life. So, I sent him an email and told him that I would be in Iceland in a few months, and asked him if he would take Misty Blue and me to climb a glacier. It was an amazing experience.

All bundled up and ready to climb a glacier!

All bundled up and ready to climb a glacier!

Here was a man that was so close to death, that no one could have blamed him if he sat on his porch in a rocking chair and rocked the rest of his life away. However, this man found the courage to shine and has dedicated his life to living it to the fullest and discovering all of the things he could do, rather than limiting himself to what others believed he could do. This man is one among many of the great adventurers we met last year. However, this man’s experience shows us that we’re not limited to only receiving encouragement from someone with the same medical condition. We can draw courage and strength from all overcomers who have faced medical adversity and have come away stronger and better in spite of their physical challenges.

Next: I Will Work And 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.

2 Responses to No Mountain Is Too High To Climb When You Have Courage

  1. Reblogged this on Courage to Shine™ and commented:
    From UroMed Hometown Heroes – Originally posted on January 28, 2012

  2. Pingback: Thomas Exler – My Story – From Stomawise & UroMed Hometown Heroes « ABC Update Online

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