Disabled man inspires students with his strength

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) -  "I know many of you are going through some difficult times. Life isn't fair," Greg Smith told a group of Gautier students Friday morning.

His body seemed small and frail. But his message was personal and powerful.

"It's easy to feel sorry for yourself and to let people look at you as a victim," Smith said.

Greg Smith was born with Muscular Dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair most of his life. Although he has lost the use of his muscles, Smith has found strength from another source.

"I realized that hey, no matter what the situation, you have the inner strength within yourself to overcome and achieve and to make something of yourself," Smith said.

As someone who has been through severe challenges, Smith shared his story to inspire and give hope to hundreds of students at Gautier High.

"I can't lift my hands over my head. Obviously can't walk or even turn over in bed at night without waking up and figuring out how I'm going to try to do it," said Smith. "But despite all that, I'm the father of three kids. I travel the world as a speaker. I'm an author. There was a movie made about my life."

"It's amazing how somebody with his problem has a better outlook on life and I don't have half as many problems as him," said Gautier High sophomore Joseph Duffy.

"I'll take it positive and try to use my ability as well as I can," said Gautier High sophomore Jessica Joseph.

And sophomore Alexia Martin said, "Even though we don't have his disability, it still hits us hard when you think about it."

Smith encouraged the students to believe in themselves, seek and overcome challenges, and enjoy that amazing feeling of accomplishment.

"You're going to see your grades improve, you're going to see changes in your family, and you're going to see your future open wide up," said Smith.

Smith was the guest speaker at the school's Multi-Cultural Assembly. It was his first time speaking at a school in south Mississippi. In April, he'll head to the Middle East to participate in an international forum on disabilities.