Tracy was born as a four-way amputee and has lived her life with the belief she is “lim(b)itless” thanks to her mother who told her on the first day of school, at age 5, that nobody should be left behind. This single experience formed the basis of her talk Thursday as she started her presentation by saying, “There is a place for each and every one of us.”
Her spirited delivery and extraordinary story demonstrated that those with disabilities are as capable as anyone else, that in life we all must overcome obstacles. In fact, she doesn’t see her disability as a downfall at all, and truly believes she was born the way she was meant to be.
“Tracy’s message is an inspiring one,” said Angus Murray, Outdoor & Experiential teacher and close friend of Tracy. “It reminds us that if something is worthwhile to us, we have to keep trying.”
Dave Stewart, Coordinator, Student Engagement & Wellness, seconded that sentiment. “Tracy doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her, she wants people around the world to realize their potential.” As Tracy sees it, if she can do it so can you!
Her positivity and resilience were palpable and left the audience in Ketchum Auditorium feeling inspired and looking for ways to become better human beings. “The real challenges she has faced daily put our daily challenges into perspective,” added Mr. Murray.
“The only difference between failure and success is one more try,” she explained to Middle and Upper School students, leading her to share three keys to success – exceed uncertainty, embrace possibility, and earn independence. She sets her expectations high and even though there have been bumps along the way, she has been creative, persistent, and boundless in attaining those goals.
The Toronto native is a decorated athlete in downhill para-skiing, world cup sailing, deep-sea diving, and mountain climbing. She is an international humanitarian who has volunteered around the world and taught in 20 countries. She is a TV host, bestselling author, and award-winning leader, and she even made a cameo appearance in the film RoboCop alongside Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman. Her videos have been viewed more than 50 million times and she has been featured in Oprah’s O magazine.
“It was really inspiring how she did all of those things against able-bodied people and overpowered most of them,” said Tony He, Grade 9, about Tracy’s sailing success when she was one of only three women to contend in the mixed-sex competition in Melbourne, Australia, and the only person with a disability.
“You are all phenomenal, valuable contributors to society,” she told the students and faculty in attendance, at the same time reminding the boys that who you surround yourself with is who you will become, so if you surround yourself with bullies, you too, will be a bully.
“This week in chapel we talked about grit, determination, and perseverance and Tracy embodies and exemplifies all of those qualities,” said Mr. Stewart. “We were fortunate to have her visit the School.”
A standing ovation to close her talk demonstrated the boys heard her loud and clear.
Story by Nicolette Fleming