The Moment Harlon Matthews Decided That His Life’s Purpose Is To Help Others

Editor’s Note: After a major accident, illness or life-changing catastrophe, we have to find out who we are, who we are going to become and how we will get through life differently than originally planned. A wise person asks these questions and diligently searches for the answers to them. Some find the answers quickly, but for others, the answer takes longer. However, the answer is always there for those who seek it. Part 4 of a 5 part series.

Harlon Matthews' motivation to help others is contagious!

Harlon Matthews’ motivation to help others is contagious!

Matthews was encouraged by two world class athletes. Randy Snow told him that he was a natural born athlete and Karin Korb became a positive mentor. However, Matthews’ view of life completely changed after one significant moment at the sports camp in Warm Springs. “We played rugby at this camp,” Matthews explains. “This sport is primarily for quadriplegics, but paraplegics played too, so they could at least see what it was like. On my team was a boy named Nate, who was in a power chair that he operated with a head rest. We were substituting in and out during the game, and I said to another player on my team, ‘Let’s give the ball to Nate.’ I got the ball and put it in Nate’s lap. Nate couldn’t move his arms at all, and the ball fell out of his lap. I picked up the ball and wedged it between his arm and his leg rest, so that it couldn’t fall out. Then, the rest of the team and myself started blocking for Nate. Nate got through the traffic and scored. You could tell this moment was huge for him. I realized I was a part of his success and enabled him to score. In that one moment when I saw Nate’s face and saw what an accomplishment this was, I realized that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Harlon Matthews is always reaching out to others with a helping hand.

Harlon Matthews is always reaching out to others with a helping hand.

Matthews’ path in life was not about what he didn’t have, but what he could do for others to help them meet their potential. He learned that his life was about what he could do for others. He was a natural born athlete, a compassionate person and someone who was willing to help others. 

Today Matthews is the Wheelchair Sports Coordinator for Parks and Recreation in Henry County, Georgia. Matthews explains, “What was really cool was sports, which I’d always loved, were the tools that created this transformation in me. I had a rebirth of energy, and I now knew what my life was all about, and what my purpose in life was. As I look back over my life, I now see that everything I’d experienced from day one of my disability was moving me toward this sports camp and this learning experience. All the times I suffered through with my disability were being used to mold me into the person I am today.”

Next: Harlon Matthews Says Don’t Fight Your Disability, Use It To Your Advantage

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

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