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Paralympian Aaron Cross speaks to students at Fulda High School

November 21, 2012

Aaron Cross spoke of the challenges he has faced since a bicycle accident in 1991 left him severely injured. 
 Fulda Free Press Norma Dittman
Fulda Free Press Norma Dittman
Aaron Cross spoke of the challenges he has faced since a bicycle accident in 1991 left him severely injured.
Motivational message focusing on goals and never giving up
Students at Fulda High School and Fulda Elementary came together at the high school on Thursday to hear three-time paralympian, Aaron Cross, deliver a motivational message about focusing on goals and never giving up.

Cross, who was severely injured in a bicycle accident on May 18, 1991, at the age of fifteen, has made his life's focus one of encouraging others to set goals, stay focused on them and work until those goals are met.

During Thursday's lyceum, Cross told FHS and FES students that in 1991, his doctors told his family, “The best thing you can do for him is get him a good color television and a good remote. They also said that I would never be able to use my arms and hands or turn my head! You remember I told you that my hands don't work very well, they don't. But there are many things that I do that no one ever thought I would be able do accomplish.”

Cross is a bronze medal winner in archery. He and his team mates earned the first-ever United States bronze medal in the sport of archery at the Paralympic the games in Athens, Greece, in 2004.

He also does skydiving, scuba diving, marathons, triathlons, duathlons, trap shooting, hunting and even done training courses with the done training courses United States Navy SEALs.

During his presentation, Cross talked extensively about his best friend who encouraged him in his recovery and healing and in learning new life skills. “In fact after my accident and while I was in the hospital, if you would ask my mother how many children she had, she would reply with the number fourteen. That's a lie. She has two. But the extras were friends of mine who came over to our house and walked the dog, did dishes and cleaning and even organized a telethon that renovated my family's home so that I could live there. They sent me over 1,000 postcards with the most perverted jokes that you had ever heard! Sean, my best friend, gave up his summer to live with me at Sister Kenney Hospital. He helped me learn and kept my spirits up.”

This same best friend of Cross' also organized a stand-up opposing the high school when the Cross family received a letter informing them that Cross could not attend St. Cloud Technical High School during his senior year. The letter encouraged Cross to attend Apollo High School. “I called Sean and told him what they had said and he said that it wasn't a problem and then he said, 'I'm not going to let you go through this alone.'”

What happened from there was that Sean contacted the 375 other students who comprised the graduating class of their high school that year and convinced each one of them to transfer to the school that had been recommended to the Cross' for Aaron. What was the administration to do but let Cross attend the high school of his choice?

Sean was also responsible for a special song sung to honor Cross at their senior choir concert. “It is only juniors and seniors who get to sing during this concert. All at once, the juniors all stopped singing and began walking off of the stage. I felt the class clown, Mike, behind me. I have a rule, 'Man no touch wheel chair - wheel chair stays put.' But my wheel chair wasn't staying put. I asked Mike what he was doing and he just grinned. Oh, oh, bad sign! Then the choir director gave Mike a microphone that worked. Another bad sign! Then he began to sing 'When a friend's a friend forever, and the whole choir was singing! Wow!”

A demonstration by Cross, assisted by FHS senior Kole Kramer was one of just how this paralympian shoots a bow and arrow. Cross asked for a brave volunteer and Kramer came to the floor of the gymnasium. Then Cross asked, 'are you right handed or left handed? 'When Kramer replied that he was left-handed, Cross said, 'Good. Hold this target (about 3” in diameter) with your right hand, then' The look on Kramer's face had his fellow students laughing out loud. But, once the archery black hole was fitted with the target, Cross instructed Kramer to come to him and sit on the floor next to him. Readying his bow and arrow, Cross took the shot, and hit the target in its center. This brought thunderous applause from the students and staff.

For the conclusionon of his uplifting message, Cross reminded the assembly that no matter what obstacles a person faces in life, there are always friends and family who will be there to help you overcome the obstacles. “Kole showed extreme courage when he volunteered to come up here and let me shoot at the targe with my bow and arrow. I want to remind you, that if you focus, you can accomplish anything!”

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