|Motivational speaker and comedian Brett Eastburn, who was born without arms or legs, draws a picture of Garfield the cat during a Special Abilities Awareness Week presentation at Dominion High School Oct. 10. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
Motivational speaker Brett Eastburn inspires through doing.
He can pick up a football and throw a perfect spiral out past the three-point line. On Oct. 10 in the gym at Dominion High School, he drew applause from the school's 1,500 students for doing just that. He did the same thing with a basketball, again receiving a large ovation.
To many, these might seem like a medial tasks, but for Eastburn these tasks take determination, dedication and perseverance.
Eastburn was born without arms and legs. He spoke at Dominion last week during Special Abilities Awareness Week.
Rather than focusing on any perceived disability, Eastman instead talked to students about achieving any goals they set their mind to.
As a young man growing up in northern Indiana, Eastburn, despite what some would consider handicaps, played baseball, basketball and football. He was a nationally-ranked wrestler in high school, placing fourth in the nation at an AAU tournament his senior year.
Eastburn has never thought he couldn't do something and his parents supported him every step of the way.
Now, Eastburn and his wife of 13 years, Chrisa tour the globe delivering his message of “you are 'handicapped' only if you choose to be.”
Additionally, he is also a comedian and artist, as well as an avid darts and pool player.
Eastburn shared with the 1,500 student body of Dominion some of his many talents, by demonstrating his skills at throwing a football and basketball, drawing, how he opens a coke and breaking a board karate style.
While demonstrating his drawing skills – which resulted in a perfect Garfield face – he asked the crowd if they thought they could draw this same photo.
When only a few people raised their hands he told the crowd, “I think you guys are missing the point of this presentation here,” Eastburn said jokingly. “I am trying to tell you you can do anything you put your mind to. The minute you say I can't is the minute you handicap yourself.
“Can you draw a circle? Can you draw a curved line? Can you draw a dot? How about squiggles,” he continued. “All of you raised your hand for that and that was all I did. It doesn't matter how you complete something. You are only going to judged on the final product. It is all about finding a way to get the job done to the best of your abilities.”
Sheila Traenkle, a representative for the Special Education Advisory Committee, noted there was a real interest from students to continue this awareness week from last year.
“Last year was our first year so we did things on a smaller level. After last year, we decided the event was successful and want to continue it as a yearly event,” Traenkle said. “Once the week passed last year the committee immediately wondered how they could improve upon on it for this year. This year kids are watching videos and doing question-answer sessions, a Share Fair and we wanted a speaker and we were fortunate to get Mr. Eastburn.”
A Share Fair consists of four clubs at Dominion that promote the integration of special ability kids to our general education kids. The fair allows them to interact and get to know each other.
Additionally, three vendors – Jill House, Spout Therapeutic Riding and Special Olympics – were present for students to sign up to volunteer.
Traenkle said participation has been huge from the student body.
“We had close to 200 of our students who want to volunteer to work with a child with special needs or an adult with special needs,” Traenkle said.
Beth Lewtr, a transition services teacher at Dominion High, was instrumental in getting Eastburn to come to share his program with the students.
According to Lewtr, the students have been very active and engaged over the course of the week, especially at the Share Fair.
“The students participation has been phenomenal and the Assistant Principal had to make them leave to go to class,” Lewtr said. “They were just so enamored with everything.”
According to Traenkle, the Share Fair provided students with the opportunity to speak with organizations like Jill House, Special Olympics, Athlete to Athlete or Therapeutic Riding.
|Eastburn says he has no handicaps because he has never let his birth defect stop him from achieving his goals, from playing sports, breaking wooden boards with his stump to writing a book called "I'm Not Missing Anything." Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
|Motivational speaker and comedian Brett Eastburn waves as he receives a standing ovation after his presentation at Dominion High School Oct. 10. Eastburn, who was born without arms or legs, came to the Sterling school as part of Special Abilities Awareness Week. Between telling funny and inspiring stories about his experiences he demonstrated that he can open a can of soda, throw a basketball and a football spiral, break a wooden board with his stump and draw a picture. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
|Senior Angela Baker, right, and junior Monica Boyd laugh at a joke made by motivational speaker and comedian Brett Eastburn, who came to Dominion High School Oct. 10 as part of Special Abilities Awareness Week. Both friends have gotten involved: Baker volunteers in the special education classroom and Boyd planned to warm up with special education students with her volleyball team before that night's game. Baker said especially going through the stresses of senior year it was inspirational to see someone prove you can go further. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
|Brett Eastburn operates his motorized wheelchair with a joystick he controls with what he has of a right arm. He says it goes up to 11 miles per hour. He also keeps his iPhone on the arm of his chair. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
|Motivational speaker and comedian Brett Eastburn, center, who was born without arms or legs, talks with students after his presentation at Dominion High School Oct. 10 as part of Special Abilities Awareness Week. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny|
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