We’re on the cusp of the holiday season. That time of year when we all get sucked into the hustle and bustle. Get ready, because you know it’s coming. As we prepare to greet November and dive into the season of blessings and giving, now is a great time to remind ourselves that blessings aren’t just thanks for what we are given, but also a time of imparting intangible blessings onto OTHERS.
There are stories all around us. We all have one. The question is whether or not we choose to share it. Cecil Williams is among our Downtown Family YMCA wellness staff. From the outside, one might see an individual with physical challenges, but his story is one of great strength and an inspiration to us all.
Cecil joined the Downtown Family YMCA staff in 2018. A longtime member of the Y and an active participant in Silver Sneakers, aquatics, Pilates, and cycle, Cecil recalls the moment he decided to pursue employment with the Y.
“I said to myself, ‘Cecil, you can either stay home or you can come and do something. Why not work here?’”
Cecil has been classified as disabled since 2010 due to cerebellar ataxia, a disorder that occurs when the cerebellum, which is responsible for controlling gait and muscle coordination, becomes inflamed or damaged. Cecil’s disorder progressed slowly from braces, to a cane, to a walker.
Currently, Cecil works 19 hours per week for the YMCA and drives himself to work.
“I love what I do,” he says. “It’s a community of friends. And it gives me more of a purpose.”
Not only does Cecil show up, but he brings with him a spirit of drive and inspiration that he hopes to share with others.
According to Cecil, he now has the best of “both worlds” – he’s found something to live for and something he loves to do. Today, in addition to working the wellness floor, Cecil has also volunteered for the Ironman for the past 2 years, and currently has a trainer to stay active.
“By being more active here, I can be more active outside the Y,” he said.
We all have seasons of setbacks. Whether yours are seen or unseen, physical or emotional, or short term or long term, we ALL have the opportunity to use what might be seen as a weakness as a strength instead. When we do that… and share it with others, we not only grow as individuals, but we strengthen our community by letting others know that we’re all in this think called life together. And THAT builds a better us. A stronger us.
Cecil’s advice to others?
“Find something you are a part of,” he says.
“I’m encouraged by others who come with challenges. I want them to know that they aren’t alone.”