Text Size
WORDS OF INSPIRATION: Finding your reason 'why' Print E-mail
Written by Ben Pherson   
Thursday, 24 July 2014 08:03

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Each week Minnesota standout amateur fighter Nick "The Inspiration" Palmer is given a free pass to write about any topic, and he'll provides Minnesota MMA fans with an inside look into the world of fighting. Enjoy "Words of Inspiration.")

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -- Mark Twain

I’ve been down some very dark and lonely roads in my short time in this world, and I never understood the second part of that Mark Twain quote, "why?"

Somewhere in between losing both of my parents, my battle with addiction and my struggles with depression I lost myself and my mind. I always believed in things happening for a reason, but I just couldn’t seem to find those reasons.

It wasn’t until I dedicated my life to mixed martial arts that I started to regain my sanity. I needed something that allowed me to release the aggression I’ve been burying inside myself all my life and that’s exactly what MMA provided.

What I didn’t expect, though, was to see so many other doors open since I’ve been competing. There is one door in particular that opened for me and I am forever grateful for it.

It’s the door that gave me purpose, that reason I’ve been searching for my entire life. I’ve been given an opportunity to give back to this world and in a way that not only helps a bunch of kids and their parents, but it also feeds my own soul. I’m part of a group of limb-different athletes who get together once a year in southern Illinois to coach kids with limb differences. We teach them different tricks and tips in various sports.

I am one of their wrestling coaches, and that’s a big part of why I got back to my roots of wrestling. I wrestled a little bit when I was a kid, but if it weren’t for my competing in MMA, I don’t think I would have found NubAbility Athletics.

This last weekend I attended and coached at this camp for the second time. This year we had some extra help

on the mats as we brought in a few more wrestling coaches because wrestling was such a hit last year.

We brought in Neil Brown who just in the last four years or so became a double amputee by losing both of his legs and part of his dominant left hand. This guy was truly inspiring to meet. Seeing Neil out on the mats rolling and wrestling with no legs was so cool to witness. He has a T-shirt that says “Oh, you train Jiu-Jitsu with legs? THAT’S ADORABLE.”

Neil’s jiu-jitsu coach Eric Myers also came with Neil to help coach wrestling and Eric is a true martial artist. He holds a black belt in just about every form of martial arts and is currently working toward a black belt in BJJ. He’s currently a brown belt and although he’s not limb different, camp would not have been the same if he had not been there, and it was an honor meeting him, too.

We brought in another wrestling coach this year too and his name is Zach Gowen. Zach lost his left leg to cancer at 8 years old, but he never let that stop him from chasing his dreams and achieving his goals. He dreamed of becoming a professional wrestler and by time he was 20 years old, he achieved that goal and got the call to join the WWE.

Zach also fought through some tough times of his own and was eventually let go from the WWE, but he did become the first one-legged professional wrestler, and he’s still wrestling as a professional to this very day. I will consider these guys friends for the rest of my life, and I can’t wait to see them again next year.

There were so many wonderful people at this camp and although we all have a different story to tell, a lot of our stories are very similar.

We had a little boy named Zion sign up for our wrestling this year and this kid is nothing short of amazing. Zion has no feet and only one finger on each hand. He didn’t allow that to slow him down one bit when he was on the mats. The way he ran around and wrestled, you would have never known he was missing both of his feet.

It’s so hard for me to find the words that allow me to properly express what this weekend meant to me. Seeing these kids smile and their parents tell me how much it means to them to have me there was a remarkable feeling. What’s so remarkable about it the fact that I should be thanking them for allowing me to be part of their kids’ lives and a chance to show them they’re capable of doing anything they set their minds toward and work hard for.

I found myself feeling as if I didn’t belong there. A lot of these people are beyond amazing and then you have me, just a regular guy who just so happened to be born without a right hand. Some of these kids were born without arms, or legs, or feet, or missing an arm and a leg. I mean, how blessed am I?

This weekend was just yet another reminder of why I fight. I fight because I want to and I want to show these kids they can do whatever they want to do, too. This is my destiny and this is my "why."