Nationally recognized motivational speaker Rohan Murphy, a star high school and collegiate wrestler who lost his legs at the age of 4, after being born with a rare defect, shared his story of perseverance with Lower and Middle School students on Thursday, October 17.
Murphy is also an accomplished Paralympian, having represented the United States in powerlifting competitions all over the world.
“Mother Nature may have dealt me a bad hand in life,” Murphy said, “but that didn’t mean I had to fold.”
Instead, Murphy spent his childhood and adolescence setting out to prove his doubters wrong — pitting himself against doctors and anyone who ever told him he couldn’t do something because of his disability.
He ultimately made the varsity wrestling team at East Islip High School in Long Island and went on to Penn State University, where he competed on the mats collegiately at the Division I-level.
Murphy shared the story of one of his first practices as a Nittany Lion, when he and his teammates were charged with a training exercise requiring them to run up a steep hill.
He jumped out of his wheelchair and followed on his hands, trudging for 90 minutes through dirt, grass, and gravel to make it to the top.
“I’ve never used my disability as an excuse,” Murphy said. “If you want something out of life, you have to go get it — with or without legs.”
He left Lower and Middle School boys with a series of personal questions to consider.
“If I can be successful, in spite all of this, why can’t all of you? What’s holding you back? What’s stopping you?”