“It’s not the disability. It’s ability.”
Those are the words that retired Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman lives by.
Bowman was a member of the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army's official aerial parachute demonstration team. In 1994, he suffered a mid-air collision with one of his teammates. The teammate did not survive, and Bowman lost both of his legs as a result.
Despite that setback, Bowman never gave up on his dream. He went into rehab and worked even harder to continue his army career.
“I became the first double amputee to re-enlist back into the United States military; and now, it’s given me an opportunity to travel around to go to speak a message of hope,” he said.
Bowman shared that encouraging message to the employees of Mary Jo Sheppard Elementary School on Aug. 8. Staff members said it helped changed their perspective.
“It just showed that all of us have a disability that we are working towards becoming an ability,” said Kimberly Webb, the school’s math specialist. “Your disability doesn’t define you.”
Being able to push through during the hard times is a lesson that staff members said they will instill into their students as well.
“All of our students come to school with different baggage or different things affecting them in life,” said Principal Darrell LeJeune. “But our teachers, I wanted them to know that they can put a positive light on everything for our students to lift them up and motivate them to do the best that they can do at our school.”
LeJeune plans to invite Bowman back on his campus around Veterans Day to speak to the students. He said his story fits perfectly into MISD’s Vision 2020 value of resiliency.