Earlier this year, I began drafting a second book based on the adventures of Ollie Otter. This time the inspiration came from a different source. Actually, two.
I met Mathias (age 16 at this writing), his brother and mother through Crossroads Church. Mathias plays tennis and basketball from the seat of a specialized wheelchair. He motors with strong hands and arms. He was born with no legs. He soon will be teaching and guiding younger boys and girls who – in our narrow thinking – are limited in what they can do athletically.
Back in February 2021, I was competing in a pickleball tournament in St. Petersburg, Florida when I was inspired again by a fellow player. He played with two prosthetic legs and played well indeed! We watched and applauded as our spirits were lifted by his love of the sport. I thanked him after his matches but did not ask for his name. I took his picture during one of the matches to remind me of what pickleball is all about!
In my forthcoming second children’s book, you’ll meet four new critters who give life to the theme of overcoming fear and adversity. You will see, most importantly, the pivotal role that Ollie Otter, Pauly Penguin, Robby Racoon and Wally Wallaby play – upon returning home – to encourage others and remind them that Love Always Wins!
I am dedicating the book to those who strive to be confident, positive and resilient, despite personal or physical setbacks, either permanent or temporary. To people who push and persevere despite coping with some form of adversity or challenge. They may have been born with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AHDH). They may be born without or have lost an extremity in a war or accident, or struggle with their vision or hearing. They may have lost strength in their legs and rely upon a wheelchair. They may have lost a job or a loved one. But they have not given up on life. They approach life – and sports – with smiles and energy. You see them on the tennis and basketball courts and running races. You may in the future see them on pickleball courts more frequently.
They may be playing pickleball now. We are just not aware of it. In the future, pickleball as a sport may have a more collective plan and means to engage and support those that “thrive” in a wheelchair, young and "older."
I hope the book I’m completing now will increase awareness of this need and trigger an increased level of support at the local and national level. I have immense respect for those that play sports with zeal and confidence, despite a disability or challenge that we perhaps consider a challenge, but they do not.
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Children's book author from Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a heart to encourage children young and old through his books.