One of my favorite things about fall is the United Way Annual Campaign. For three years I've gotten to make speeches about The Salvation Army to organizations which contribute to the campaign.Tuesday I spoke at the OSU Center for Health Sciences and I had the added pleasure of running into an old friend, Nate Waters. Nate is in the United Way's campaign film and I had been looking forward to teasing him about being a movie star. A few years ago, I met Nate in the gym where we both work out at the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges. Nate is partially paralyzed and I have a disability with chronic back pain. I usually see Nate when he has finished his work out and I'm just getting started. So he zips around the gym in his wheelchair wheeling and dealing on his cell phone while I'm grunting and groaning on the weight machines. The photo at left is of Nate, me and OSU-Tulsa President Howard Barnett. The photo at right is of the Center for Health Sciences' United Way campaign committee members, from left, R.D. Bell, Amanda Bern and Bria Taylor.
Nate also spoke Tuesday and I was interested in hearing more of his story. One of the things that amazes me about Nate is that he is now helping the organizations that helped him as a youth. As a teenager, Nate and his mom stayed in the Center of Hope for a short time when they moved from Chicago to Tulsa and became homeless. Nate was paralyzed after an altercation with his mother's boyfriend when he was 19.
Tulsa's Ability Resources helped Nate earn his GED so he could go to college. He earned his Associates from TCC, then went on to OSU-Tulsa to get his Bachelor's, majoring in marketing and finance. He was hired at Williams after he graduated. Despite his challenging circumstances, Nate tells his story without a trace of bitterness and I really admire him for it. (Pistol Pete, D.O. at left)
"Tulsa thinks it's a small city, but it's really just one big family," Nate said. "The agencies that helped me didn't judge me or look down on my family. They just helped me like they are helping so many others," he said. Nate now volunteers his time serving on several boards, including the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges and the Child Abuse Network (CAN). "I decided a long time ago that although I didn't have a lot of money to give to the United Way, I could volunteer my time," Nate said. "There's no excuse for not getting involved." No one could have said it better!