Portraits in Determination
(Subsidiary of Linda Furiate Enterprises)

yellow rose

Interview: The Challenge of Adversity

Linda Furiate

I recently enjoyed the opportunity of seeing Scott Chesney for the first time as he was being interviewed for a local New Jersey television talk show. The moment I heard his inspiring message I knew Scott was someone I wanted and needed to know. So with the convenience of the Internet I sent Scott an email asking him if I could have the pleasure of him sharing a bit of himself with my website audience.

Scott kindly agreed to be interviewed by me, answering my many probing questions. I was delighted in his willingness to share so openly his tumultuous journey since learning to readapt to a life of immobility, once being an active, agile teenage boy.

At the age of fifteen Scott was abruptly presented with the most challenging feat anyone could ever have to endure at such a young age. As a result of a stroke to his spinal cord, a condition called Foix-Alajounine Syndrome, Scott was left paralyzed from the waist down. No longer could he play the many competitive sports he once did as a sophomore in high school. No longer was his view of the world from standing on the basketball court, the crowd cheering him on, but from the metal apparatus he now relied on to control his every pivot.

Scott has journeyed a long way since high school with many years of anger and uncertainty filling his days as he searched for his own Truth. As one speaks to Scott today it is apparent he has come to terms with his life, with his Soul and with the message he must communicate if he is to fulfill his purpose in this incarnation.

Scott recently started a company called "Devotion to Motion" helping others who may experience life in a wheelchair. He is devoted to inspiring others to maximize the potential that resides within and assist them in finding out who they really are. Scottís message far exceeds just those who may experience the physical limitations he has endured, but also encourages those seeking ways to empower themselves emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I encourage all of you to read more about Scott and share in his inspiring words of wisdom. Also log onto his website www.d2motion.com to become further enlightened.

Linda Furiate Linda Furiate - Define Scott Chesney before the date of December 28, 1985 - who was that 15-year old child?

Scott Chesney Scott Chesney - Looking back on the first 15 years of my life is like exploring a whole other life, one that I would not change for anything in the world. I was a young, inexperienced seeker, whose purpose was to gain as much love and attention from others, even at the expense of myself. My whole life was about external movement and pushing my physical body to the max. Internally, I was scared, fearful, and full of uncertainty that my many masks prevented the world from seeing.

LF - Scott, you experienced a tragic occurrence on December 28, 1985 thus leaving you paralyzed from the waist down. Describe the few moments leading up to the stroke your body endured and what it was like physically.

SC - There were no signs that could be felt or seen in the time leading up to the sudden stroke. My body had been going through a growth spurt at the time, as I was at the age of preparing to "step" into my manhood. Various pains could be felt throughout my body, I was no longer the fastest individual in my class, and hair began to appear on different parts of my bodyÖthat I did not know was just a part of puberty at that time. Emotionally, I was already paralyzed.

LF - What was your first thought when you realized your were paralyzed and understood your long-term prognosis?

SC - Consciously, I initially did not think too much about it. It really did not bother me in the very beginning. I believe this was so because on a much deeper level, even on the subconscious level, I knew that I created paralysis for a purpose. That reasoning transcended to me consciously to the point where it was if nothing had happened. I simply thought I was sick and in a matter of time I would be healthy again.

LF - What is the name of your illness and please provide a brief description?

SC - It is called Foix-Alajounine Syndrome. The easiest way to describe it is a type of stroke in the spinal cord. I was born with a malformation of blood vessels in the spinal cord that could have manifested into anything at any time or at no time. Back in 1985 when I was first diagnosed, doctors informed me that I was the 12th documented case of this syndrome... in the entire world. Right after doctors told me that I would never walk again, they informed me that I was very lucky because out of the 11 cases that had been documented before mine, 7 of the cases revealed malformations in the brain and not the spinal cord. If that was the case with me, I may not be here today.

LF - In the early years of your learning to adapt to your new body, where did you find your strength? What or who were your support systems?

SC - Talk about the best board of directors for which anyone could ask. My family and friends were my pillars of support. Iíll never forget looking up from my hospital bed and seeing tears in my familyís eyes. Their pain affected me so much more than my own pain at that time and lead me to make a decision... that I would do anything possible to avoid feeling that pain and to convince them that I was just fine. Because I was so lost and living so much for other people, it is understandable that this is where I sought to gain inspiration and strength. The discipline and work ethic that I developed as an athlete really helped view my rehab days as a challenge and was a major factor in getting on with my life as well.

LF - What and when was the turning point in your life that you needed in order to look inward and define who you are and know that you are not just your body?

SC - Twelve years after becoming paralyzed, I was living down in Miami, FL, had a great job making great money, relationships were thriving, connections with family and friends were outstanding, and physically I felt great. With everything that I managed to create outside myself, there was still a void on the inside. I recall coming home from work at night, locking myself in my bedroom, and just going up to a mirror and looking into my own eyes and saying, "Who are you and what more do you need?" Waves of tears would cascade down my face as I searched for any kind of answers, but none seemed to appear. What I realize now is that some very powerful intentions were launched during that time in my life and I began to attract people with whom I needed to connect who were on a similar path, books that I needed to read to expand my awareness various areas of life, and many other magical experiences to launch me into a journey of self-discovery.

LF - How did you express your anger when consumed by thoughts of your physical limitations?

SC - In the beginning, I was a raging volcano. I suppressed to a certain degree and then would simply explode... breaking furniture, putting my fists through glass windows, and yelling at family members. In the past three years, I have engaged in more "civil" behavior to release my anger... screaming into pillows, whacking a baseball bat against a hard surface, and journaling.

LF - What is one thing you wish you could still do that has been limited by your paralysis?

SC - Walk along the beach holding my wifeís hand.

LF - Why is it so important for you to give back and share your story with the world?

SC - During my journeys around the world, I discovered my purpose in life... to unveil myself and share with the world my tragedies and triumphs with hope that it will inspire them to look inward and go to their destiny. The world has given me so much and still serves as a great mirror reflection. It is such a joy and so rewarding to be able to make a positive difference in peoplesí lives and making lifelong connections.

LF - In a nutshell, what words of wisdom can you express to those reading this article, how they may learn to see their adversities in a different and more powerful, rewarding light?

SC - When each and every one of us chooses to take full responsibility for having created every moment, every event, good or perceived as "bad," in our entire lives and know with total certainty that all of our moments have served us and are all examples of growth... then we are free... free from the limitations of our mind. Itís a head-heart shift. If you are spending too much time in your head, in your mind, then take a magical journey back into your heart because that is where true wisdom is found. Also, when people ask me what the secret is to living a life of Devotion to Motion, I simply reply... embracing the polar opposite of movement, its best friend, stillness!


Interview with Art Fletcher

As president of the United Negro College Fund, he coined the phrase, "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste", a civil rights pioneer having authored the current day Affirmative Action Laws as the Assistant Secretary of Labor under President Nixon, and the first black player for Baltimore Colts. A terrific lesson in history and personal sacrifice that helped shape today's society.

Interview with Michael Green

How a long life of adversity and addiction became an opportunity to help others through his profession.

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