By Mark Victor Hansen
At a young and tender age, Patti Wilson was told by her doctor that she was an epileptic. Her father, Jim Wilson, is a morning jogger. One day she smiled through her teenage braces and said, "Daddy, what I'd really love to do is run with you every day, but I'm afraid I'll have a seizure."
Her father told her, "If you do, I know how to handle it so let's start running!"
That's just what they did every day. It was a wonderful experience for them to share and there were no seizures at all while she was running. After a few weeks, she told her father, "Daddy, what I'd really love to do is break the world's long distance running record for women."
Her father checked the Guiness Book of World Records and found that the farthest any woman had run was 80 miles. As a freshman in high school, Patti announced, "I'm going to run from Orange County up to San Francisco." (A distance of 400 miles.) "As a sophomore," she went on, "I'm going to run to Portland, Oregon." (Over 1,500 miles.) "As a junior I'll run to St. Louis. (About 2,000 miles.) "As a senior I'll run to the White House." (More than 3,000 miles away.)
In view of her handicap, Patti was as ambitious as she was enthusiastic, but she said she looked at the handicap of being an epileptic as simply "an inconvenience." She focused not on what she had lost, but on what she had left.
That year she completed her run to San Francisco wearing a T-shirt that read, "I Love Epileptics." Her dad ran every mile at her side, and her mom, a nurse, followed in a motor home behind them in case anything went wrong.
In her sophomore year Patti's classmates got behind her. They built a giant poster that read, "Run, Patti, Run!" (This has since become her motto and the title of a book she has written.) On her second marathon, en route to Portland, she fractured a bone in her foot. A doctor told her she had to stop her run. He said, "I've got to put a cast on your ankle so that you don't sustain permanent damage."
"Doc, you don't understand," she said. "This isn't just a whim of mine, it's a magnificent obsession! I'm not just doing it for me, I'm doing it to break the chains on the brains that limit so many others. Isn't there a way I can keep running?" He gave her one option. He could wrap it in adhesive instead of putting it in a cast. He warned her that it would be incredibly painful, and he told her, "It will blister." She told the doctor to wrap it up.
She finished the run to Portland, completing her last mile with the governor of Oregon. You may have seen the headlines: "Super Runner, Patti Wilson Ends Marathon for Epilepsy On Her 17th Birthday."
After four months of almost continuous running from the West Coast to the East Coast, Patti arrived in Washington and shook the hand of the President of the United States. She told him, "I wanted people to know that epileptics are normal human beings with normal lives."
I told this story at one of my seminars not long ago, and afterward a big teary-eyed man came up to me, stuck out his big, meaty hand and said, "Mark, my name is Jim Wilson. You were talking about my daughter, Patti." Because of her noble efforts, he told me, enough money had been raised to open up 19 multimillion-dollar epileptic centers around the country.
If Patti Wilson can do so much with so little, what can you do to outperform yourself in a state of total wellness?