I left UCF in early 1980 and lost contact with Bert. Later that year, he was in a horrible car accident that left him a quadriplegic. I had an extensive chat with Bert, and his story is amazing.
He became a Paralympic medalist, created a vastly successful medical supply company, and started a non-profit association for the support of people with spinal cord injuries. He married and is the father of two teenagers. His enthusiasm and joy is infectious.
He frequently gives inspirational talks to spinal cord injury patients and their caregivers. Using his own amazing story, he encourages the newly-injured to see beyond their injury and envision all that they CAN do, not what they can no longer do.
As Bert was talking, he relayed that there was a physical therapist that worked with him after his injury. This caregiver is the one that first brought the world of wheelchair athletics to Bert’s attention. At first, he was not interested. But she persevered and patiently brought Bert around to see a different future for his life.
Are there people that have inspired you, recently or in the past, that have not heard a “thank you” from you? Seek out those that have inspired, lifted, and encouraged you, and tell them thank you. And, if you see Bert Burns speaking somewhere near you, plan on attending. He is a true inspiration.