Honoring Lauren Manning – Day #15 – Honor Someone Who Has Inspired You

9781429996884I don’t know how many of you have ever heard of Lauren Manning but if you haven’t , you should check her out.

As I veer toward the elevators, I suddenly feel an incredible sense of otherworldliness. It’s an odd, tremendous, quaking feeling. Everything . . . moves. I hear a huge, whistling rush of air, an incredibly loud sound: shshooooooooooooo. And then, with an enormous, screeching exhalation, fire explodes from the elevator banks into the lobby and engulfs me. An immense weight pushes down on me, and I can barely breathe. I am whipped around. Looking to my right, where the two women were talking, I see people lying on the floor covered in flames. Like them, I am on fire.

I read Greg and Lauren’s first book several years ago (“Love, Greg and Lauren” ) when it was first published in 2002 and it was/is brilliant. Greg (Lauren’s husband) collected all the emails and letters he had written to friends and family chronicling Lauren’s life and death struggle after she was burned over 82% of her body in 9/11.

I was so touched by her courage and will to live and the love from Greg and all around her that it has stuck with me all these years. But you see, I had the luxury of reading the story and then going about my life doing anything and everything I wanted. Lauren wasn’t so lucky – she was the one living the nightmare. And she was existing or so it probably seemed – through all the surgery, infection and pain this woman continued to hang on and fight. I am pretty sure I couldn’t handle all that she had to go through so that puts her even higher on my “courage, determination, and inspiration” list.

In 2002 I did the “Face of America” bicycle ride honoring 9/11 – we rode from Ground Zero to the Pentagon in 3 days. Here’s a quote from me as I was featured (I have no idea why though) in that ride booklet and again in a commemorative article in 2011:

Terrie Wurzbacher was an active duty member from the U.S. Navy. A native New Yorker and a Washington D.C. resident who has epilepsy, Wurzbacher looked to the Face of America to support each other. “This ride is giving us the opportunity to do more than just fly the flag,” she said. “[The ride] will help dispel the myth that having a disability precludes accomplishing a major goal – my epilepsy will not stand in the way of my training for and succeeding in this ride. There are other riders with other conditions, many with asthma, some with heart conditions.”

As an aside, I am so grateful that I was featured because it allowed a man whom I had worked with (and apparently successfully influenced his life) to find me amongst that morass of riders. One morning after it had rained pretty much all night, I went to my bike and saw something on it and being the true New Yorker that I am was wondering who had “messed with my bike”. But then I saw that it was a note from him. He had found my number and looked through all the bikes to find it and leave the note. We were able to hook up and ride into the Pentagon (one of the most emotional moments of my life) together – arm in arm – not an easy thing to do on a bike!

But I digress.  At Ground Zero as we were getting ready to leave NYC on our journey South Lauren spoke. As we filed by we got to shake hands with her and I made my way over to her and in a choked up voice thanked her for her courage and for being there only 1 year after her tragic experience. That was an extremely touching memory for me. It stuck we me as we battled the headwinds along the coast and wanted to quit. I kept remembering this diminutive woman and how much she had endured and then simply laughed at myself for even considering stopping instead of pushing ahead against the wind. It was only wind and only slightly uncomfortable. It wasn’t the 24/7 agony that Mrs. Manning went through and still had to go through.

So next time you want to quit something, I hope you remember this post and this woman. I also hope you read the two books about her – the latest is titled “Unmeasured Strength” and that’s an understatement.

She is an inspiration and just seeing her alive and so active at this point is an inspiration to everyone!

Think about her courage and act “as if”.


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