Where are your legs? How do you go to the bathroom? Can you drive a car?
"I had to start answering these questions, so people could get past this (his body) and see me for what's in here (my heart)."
Two parts to his presentation: 1. Asking for Help, and 2. Creating Social Value
I wanted people to look past my disability and see what's in here (my heart).Spencer West
Asking for Help
Challenges are what bring human beings together. I always wanted to be a functioning member of society. I had a good job as a client care manager for a successful salon. I'd worked there for four years. I had an apartment with a pool in the complex. I had it all.
But I went on a Me to We volunteer trip to Kenya. We were building a school there. We visited a school previously built by Free The Children and many of the children asked me all kinds of questions.
One of the children, an amputee, asked Spencer made a remark that changed his life. "I didn't know that those circumstances could cause a white person to lose their legs too."
A few years later, while leading a FTC volunteer mission to India, he, along with other volunteers and students visited the tallest mountain in the province of Rajasthan. Two of their hosts showed up with a pole and a suspended chair attached to it, asking who would like to ride it.
Everybody looked at him. Spencer thought he should resist, but he realized, it was OK to ask for help.
Soon after that, Spencer and his two best friends committed to a new challenge together: Climbing Mount Kiliminjaro.
Focus not on what you can't do, but on what you can do.
They climbed together, with Spencer on his hands, and when he needed a break, his friends would carry them on their back. "I wished many times during that climb, that I could carry my friends on my back, like they carried me."
Instead, I did what my parents always told me to do when I was child. "Focus not on what you can't do, but on what you can do."
They reached their physical limit. Spencer's friends could barely walk anymore, Spencer himself felt his hands going numb.
"I was told I would never be a functioning member of society and I am standing at the tallest free-standing mountain in Africa," he narrates in the video of him, climbing to the Summit with his friends.
Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way.
"Make sure to ask for help or to offer help to others," Spencer implored the audience.
Creating Social Value
When Spencer was in high school, there was a strong emphasis on sports. He decided early on he could not play football or basketball... So he settled on cheerleading. He made the team.
They trained hard. "Harder even than the football and basketball teams," Spencer said. It showed because later, in Spencer's senior year, they won the State Championship.
Every business has an opportunity to integrate social value in your business.Spencer West
Spencer's cheerleading team was successful because they performed well, but also because Spencer's inclusion in the team sent a positive message to both able-bodied people and people with disabilities -- they created social value.
"Every business has an opportunity to integrate social value in your business," Spencer said. "iQmetrix has been committed to Free The Children, its Adopt a Village program, its online donations and also the Me to We organization.
"Thank you for helping us pursue the goal of social justice. This is what people of my generation are looking for a job: How to make money, but also how to make the world a better place."
Spencer left the audience with an inspirational quote that one of his mentors had told him: "Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way."