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Never Give Up!

Karen and Jay share thoughts on the power of determination and the will to ‘never give up.’

When we ‘lock on to a goal’ - something we really care about - we have the opportunity to create magic! We develop a focus. We concentrate our energies. We channel our efforts. And if we have persistence, nothing can stop us. Grit, overcoming adversity and never giving up. This is what determination is all about.

With this in mind, I’d like to share the story of a young man named Hansel Enmanuel Donato Domínguez. Perhaps you’ve heard of him and his incredible exploits, or perhaps you haven’t heard of him at all. But either way, his story is one worth sharing. Born in the Dominican Republic, Hansel, when he was 6 years old, was involved in a terrible accident. When playing with some neighborhood friends, a wall fell on him. He was left trapped for over two hours until emergency crews were able to get the wall off from him. When he was taken to the local hospital, doctors determined that Hansel would have to have his arm amputated. Prior to the accident, his father, who had been a professional basketball player, had gotten his son involved in sports from a young age. However, the accident left Hansel having to relearn everything - from tying his shoes to eating, to even drinking a glass of water. As he would recall years later, “I didn’t want to do anything.” Yet, through the encouragement of his parents, he got back on his feet and started to learn how to balance himself without his missing limb. As his balance returned, so too did his passion for sport.

With baseball, a national pastime in the Dominican Republic, likely out of the picture, he chose instead to focus on basketball. He would spend countless hours practicing one handed dribbling and one-handed shots and mastering his footwork. And as he practiced, he also grew to a whopping 6ft 4in. His talents evolved to such an extent that his high-flying, one-handed dunks began regularly featuring on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, and he started to capture the attention of some of the top high school basketball recruits in the United States, eventually landing a scholarship with Life Christian Academy in Kissimmee, Florida. In his first season, he was his team’s highest scorer with an average of 26 pts per game, helped them win a state championship, and received three Division-1 basketball offers. And, with Hall of Fame basketball star Shaquille O’Neal even recently saying, "I wish people understood how different Hansel Enmanuel is. He outplayed some of the best high school players with one arm this season." Just this past week, he committed to one of those offers and will be playing Division-1 basketball next season.

If you haven’t seen any of Hansel’s highlights, I recommend you check them out. Even if you aren’t the biggest basketball aficionado, when you watch what this young man is capable of, especially through all the adversity he’s faced, it’s striking. His story demonstrates just what an individual can accomplish with a little perseverance and determination, and in Hansel’s case, with just one arm. And as he put it, “I don’t want people to look at me as a kid with a disability. I hope that they only see me as a great player who will go as far as I possibly can.”

Obviously, there is a big lesson here. No matter what we aspire to in life, there will be roadblocks, setbacks, and adversity. All each of us can do is remain determined, and this starts by trusting and believing in ourselves to the extent that each hurdle thrown our way simply makes us more resolute, and ultimately, the best version of ourselves we can be, just like Hansel.

You might enjoy watching this clip of Hansel – Amazing demonstration of ‘determination!’

Elliot Perry’s Playground – Determination at an Early Age

As parents, we are always proud of what our children accomplish. Their first steps, going to school for the first time, getting their first job, and finding the love of their life.

One child Karen and I have come to adore and hugely respect, as many Granite Stater’s have, is 11 year old Elliot Perry. In fact, we’ve featured Elliot’s journey in a couple of our Sunshine Reports. Born three months premature and given only an 18 percent chance of survival, the odds were against Elliot from the start. But his determination to live helped him overcome the obstacles he faced. And his continued determination is nothing short of miraculous.

One of the things Elliot wasn’t supposed to do was walk. However, today he not only walks but climbs and enjoys every piece of playground equipment he can find. While on a routine visit at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, Elliot realized there was no playground at the Children’s Hospital in Manchester. He also noted that the playground in Lebanon was out-of-date and needed some all-inclusive opportunities so every kid – no matter their physical capabilities - could enjoy the playground. So, Elliot began his quest to build not one but two all-inclusive playgrounds.

His original goal was to raise $121,000 in 121 days but then the pandemic hit, and his campaign was delayed. However, Elliot was not deterred. He hit the phones, sent out personalized letters and during his spare time after remote learning, he zoomed with donors from across New Hampshire and the country to help him on his playground quest. WMUR-TV, the local ABC affiliate in the Granite State, picked up on his efforts and filmed him for a feature article. After a successful run on the air, the story was pitched to a nationally recognized TV show, and the following February, Elliot appeared on the ‘Ellen Show’ where he was presented with $20,000 for the playground. Then came the fun stuff.

Over the summer of 2021, Elliot worked with hospital staff and engineers in handpicking the playground equipment that would be part of the Manchester site. Musical components that were sensory neutral were selected as well as the first wheelchair accessible swing in the state of New Hampshire. The specialty turf on the ground helps dry the area faster for easier wheelchair accessibility. An 11-year old not only thought about these components but he made it all happen.

Elliot is the true definition of determination. He has never lost a fight he was committed to winning nor has ended his quest to reach the top. And what’s really awesome about his efforts is that he didn't just do all this for himself but for the smiles and joy he could bring to others! Way to go Elliot!

Karen and I, like so many others, are thankful and blessed to support your efforts! Keep it up young man!

Sportsplexes – Serving Multiple Purposes

The weather in New Hampshire has a lot to offer, but in the winter, unless you are skiing, ice-skating, snowmobiling or otherwise enjoying the great outdoors, there is a serious need for places to keep your sports-skills sharp. Enter the many New Hampshire ‘Sportsplexes’ which serve to keep our young (and old) athletes going in the winter months with many even operating year-round. They make great shelters from the outside world and have recently taken on a new mission of serving the community and state.

When COVID-19 broke out and disrupted everything, the New Hampshire State Legislature was in a quandary. How does a body of 400 members, many of whom are further along in years, meet safely in a spacious environment in the middle of winter? There are only so many venues in New Hampshire that provide shelter from the outside and have space for 400 people to sit, 6 feet from each other. Enter the Bedford Sportsplex which quickly opened its doors to welcome the Legislature, allowing the ‘People’s body’ to meet and do the People’s work safely. There were no known transmissions of COVID during this time and the Legislature was able to move forward in the ‘sport of politics’ – that is uniquely New Hampshire!

So, while the main purpose of these buildings will always be athletics, let’s not overlook their contribution and potential for other uses as well. If you want to find out more about the complexes, I recommend going here to see the many options available across the state!

Positive Profile of the Week - Ken Burns

This week we are delighted to highlight one of the Granite State’s best known and most admired citizens, the truly accomplished filmmaker, storyteller and much more - Ken Burns.

Ken is perhaps best known for his public television documentaries. The Oscar and Academy Award-nominated, Emmy and Grammy winner has made documentaries on a wide variety of subjects including baseball, country music, jazz, the Roosevelt family, our National Parks, the American Civil War, numerous biographies and so much more. His style embraces history and culture and the shaping of the American story.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Ken has had a long career not just in the United States but around the world - working for the BBC and Italian television and producing a variety of short films. Deeply moved by his mother’s death at a young age, he has dedicated his career to making sure that those who have passed and are long gone in history are not forgotten, but in a real sense, are brought back to life.

In the 1970’s, while a student at Hampshire College in western Massachusetts, Burns decided to plant roots in Walpole, New Hampshire and co-founded the Florentine Films Production company. This is the company that has produced many of his documentaries including the great adventure mini-series on Lewis and Clark. Burns’ view of his documentaries' subjects is that history has many complex layers, and one should take the time to explore all aspects of it.

He has worked with many famous voice actors and historians to bring his story to life, including Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, Edward Herrmann, and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Closer to home here in Manchester NH, he is honorary co-chair of the campaign to raise funds for the Gregory Grappone ‘04 Humanities Institute at Saint Anselm College. Burns also has several new documentaries coming soon to public television, and we can’t wait to see who is going to focus on next! Indeed, we in New Hampshire are deeply fortunate to be blessed by Ken and his immense contributions to our understanding of the American story.

Quotes of the Week: Determination

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”

Og Mandino

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

Mario Andretti

“A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

Colin Powell

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

“Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.”

Dan Gable


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