How to Aspire to greatness – Blake Leeper

Why not me ? I am meant for this!  

Why not me? I am strong enough for this !

Why not me ? I am smart enough for this !

I was born with a congenital birth defect, fibular hemimelia, so my legs didn’t develop in the womb.  My mother and father didn’t know and they rushed me out the room and took me to ICU , and the doctors had to come back  and have this conversation wit my mother and father.  Mr and Mrs Leeper ,I’m sorry but  your baby boy Blake was born missing both of his legs.  He’s never going to walk a day in his life!

When I wake up in the morning , guess what , I am nit going to have my legs!

When I go to bed at night  , guess what guys , my legs  ain’t gonna be there!

There is nothing that I could do about it, this is who I am , this is my life !  I remember a time when I was about 4-5 years old , I was playing baseball on this team , and this season I wanted to do one thing  and that was to hit a home run.  If I can]t hit a  home run to go around the bases , my teammates would accept me , they would cheer for me , and my father , he was the coach on the team , so I , they never  told me that I would never walk around  , but they told him , so If I did hit this home run , I would prove them wrong , right?


I walk  up to the plate and I take my three practice swings 1,2 and on the 3rd when I hit the ball as far as I can the ball starts flying , I get so excited I forget to run , my teammates are like , run Blake ,run, run. I am on my way to second base , I look over to my teammates and they’re cheering for me , they are yelling and this is it , this is the  moment i look over to my father  on third base and he’s jumping up and down  , he’s screaming , oh my goodness this is it !  But from second base to  third base , my leg falls off Argh! The  kid comes over and tags me out .  why would a kid take another kid out missing his legs , i have no idea but baseball in America is serious guys , I am telling you !

As I laid there , one leg on ,one leg off, I  remember looking over to my teammates and all the excitement was gone ,I can remember looking at my father and  he was disappointed , not at me but at the situation.  I remember being mad at the world , I remember questioning it like ,

NO ! this isn’t fair !

what did I do to deserve this?

All my teammates they have their legs ,my mother she has her legs , my brother he is fine , why me ? why do I have to go through this ? 

Why do I have to face this?

This isn’t fair , all I wanted to do was to hit a homerun , to fit in , all I wanted to do , was to make my father proud and  you mean I can’t even do that?


I was looking for fault ! It’s life’s fault, it’s her fault ,it’s his fault, it’s their fault, I don’t deserve this.  I was losing my power trying to blame things, blame life , blame the situation ,  I decided to take control over my life and instead of asking , why me , I asked myself why not me !

Why not me ?

Why not me , I am meant for this!

Why not me , I am strong enough for this!

Why not me , I am smart enough for this !

It was my responsibility to get back up, it os my responsibility to figure this out , and all those moments that I was falling down, it was getting me ready for the Paralympic games . I will never forget, I qualified for the 2012  Paralympic Games , it was amazing , I got the all red USA uniform and it was funny, so , for my grandad he was 72 years old , he’s never flew a day  in his life , and I came to him and I said “ Grandpa , I’m gonna compete for the Paralympics games , will you come watch me run? “  , he is like “ yeah , of course , where is it at ? “ , I said , “they are in London , England “ he is like ” okay, perfect!  How long is that drive ? ”  I was like “ Grandad, you’re gonna have to fly , you have to fly to get there ” , He said “ Okay, do they serve alcohol in  the plane?” I was like “yes they do “.

So we got grandad drunk, and took him to London , and it was just amazing , being in  the Olympic stadium , I had a grandfather and a grandmother, and I had two uncles and aunts to come watch me compete .  My first race was a 200m , and the stadium sold out that night , I was so nervous I couldn’t feel my feet !  So in that race , the gun goes off in the 200m , and I’m running and running and running , and then I crossed the line and I dive across the line , and when I dive across the line , and actually win , my first ever Paralympic medal in the Paralympic games , I took a bronze medal in the 200m .


And right before my race , I told my family , “ When I win , no if stop if , when I win , meet me at this part of the stadium , and we will celebrate and we will have fun “, so I got my medals and I’m running to my family in the stadium and  I see my dad and we are hugging , I see my mom , and my grandmother and my aunt’s and uncles but I can’t find granddad, ” where’s grandad at?” and grandad is in a corner crying , just tears , just pouring down , and it put it in perspective for me because that wasn’t only my name ,in the 85k people ,11 million people around the world , that was his last name , and I could tell that , he fought for me , when I couldn’t fight for myself , he pray for me when I couldn’t get up, he loved me when I couldn’t love myself , and I took that moment , and I put it in my head and bettered in my heart , that’s my why , he is one of the reasons why I do it , he is one of the reasons why I wake up.

I have World Championships the next year and I prepare myself, I train so hard and I get ready spiritually and I get ready mentally , I get ready physically , and I go to the race in Lion , France .  I got my first race , and it is the 100m ,the gun goes off and I am running , I’m running and running across the line and I took a silver medal , and damn but I wasn’t worried I had two more races left, I’m not freaking out maybe a little nit , but it’s okay , I still got the 400m now and I was the second fastest man in the world , and the 400 is last so , I am thinking to myself , I got this !

So we get into the blocks , and I’m running and running and running and I cross the line , and guess what ? I took another silver , and at this time , I’m extremely discouraged ,I’m upset, I’m mad .  I had a  gold medal In my mind , I kept coming up short , but I had one more race ,  and when the gun goes off and the first leg passes the second and the second  I wooooon a GOLD MEDAL!  And not only did I win a gold medal but we broke the world record for Paralympics in the four by 100m  relay .

My mom always told me every morning that I woke up ,that, Blake, yes , you have two disabilities, but you have a thousand other ability  that make you a special person ,you have a thousand other abilities that allow you to wake up each and  every day , put a smile on your face and go and attack the world . Now if you think about it , if I woke up in the morning , pour me a cup of coffee as the sun is rising up , I started complaining about how terrible this is , and oh woe is me, and this isn’t fair , by the time the sun is rising up and the sun is coming back down , I would still be there complaining, I will still be there upset , talking about how unfair this is, who have I helped? What have I got done? What have I accomplished ? NOTHING!

Life is 10% of what you have dealt with and 90% on how you deal with it.  The fact that I was born without legs  , that’s my 10%, but I still have 90% to show the world , what I trully can do , I still have 90% to wake up each and every day and with the opportunity to fight , to keep pushing through, I choose to accept my 10% and take the 90 and go and attack the world.  I take my 90 and every day that I wake up , I say I’m gonna walk , every day that I wake up, I say I’m gonna run, everyday that I wake up , I say  I’m gonna be the fastest man in the world point-blank ,period!

So I ask you , what is your why ? why are you waking up each and every day with your determination , your motivation to say more has  to be done, for me I have to keep pushing to be the fastest man in the world to show them I was born without legs and I could run , so Imagine what you can do with your life !

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what is your why?


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