William L.


Hope + Courage = Life

The story of a young teenager who's life is turned upside down, only to find his true calling and passion in life.  I have never used my disability as an excuse, but I made my injury make me push harder.

My story starts out as a young teenager without a care or worry in the world, in the peak of my adolescence excelling in multiple sports and with a bright future ahead. This clear picture and path all came to a gradual halt when I was diagnosed with an AVM at the age of 15. AVM is short for Arteriovenous Malformation, which is an extra blood vessel in your brain that is dangerous if it ruptures and can hemorrhage.  The discovery of the abnormality and my subsequent diagnosis was pure luck. It was in the middle of Lacrosse season my freshman year and I was experiencing pretty severe headaches on a regular basis after practice. Went in to see my doctor, and he elected to get an MRI of my sinuses to see if that's where the pressure was coming from. Right before I went in for the MRI, he said to make sure they scan my brain stem as well. That's when they found the AVM on the very upper left hand corner of the MRI, and the diagnosis would forevermore alter my life.

I underwent Stereotactic Radiosurgery to correct the abnormality. The surgery was a success, however as a result of the surgery, I experienced swelling in my brain, and roughly 3 months later I suffered a stroke. My stroke was a very atypical event. Whereas most strokes are sudden bursts of light that change your world in an instant, mine was a slow and regressive process. Each day I wasn't able to do something I could the day before; type on a keyboard, button my shirt, open a door; and then ultimately the ability to run. It took about 3 weeks for the stroke to fully run its course, leaving me in a left side hemi paresis state.

My life did not hold much meaning for many years. Understandably as a teenager and young adult I floundered searching for myself, and with coping with a disability made the search that much more elusive.

After years of grueling therapy, and multiple muscle transfers which always produced results, but would also ultimately produce disappointment in not finding the cure. Then came the summer of 2009 when my life would again be forever transformed, and is when I rediscovered myself. It all began when I attended the summit for a non-for profit organization called No Barriers. No Barriers is a group that promotes innovative ideas and technologies that help people with disabilities push through their own personal and perceived barriers and show them how to discover their true potential. This was my first introduction into the world of disabled and adaptive sports; and was a revelation that I have adopted as a lifestyle and never looked back.

Over the past 2 plus years, I have participated in as many disabled sports as I could find..such as Surfing, Rock and Ice Climbing, Off Road Cycling, Snowboarding and Sled Hockey. This past summer I found 2 sports that have lit a fire in my stomach, and ignited a passion that I've never known existed. That was when I completed my first triathlon this past June, and also when I was recruited to train and play on the US National Paralympic Soccer team. Seeing the accomplishments and dedication of those I train with and compete against has shown me what is possible. It has also given me the clarity of a clear mind of what it takes to do great things in this life. Every single day is a new opportunity to improve yourself, and to never take a minute for granted. I have never felt so alive as I do now, and this is only the beginning of a long, hard and extremely fun journey.

Hope is one of the most powerful human innate traits, and although I have come to terms with my disability and the fact I will never make a full recovery to the person I once was; I will never lose the hope to push myself to the limit everyday of my life. This hope added to the courage to walk to the cliff's edge at every moment that is given to you will undoubtedly lead to a life that will be remembered forever.


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