To those familiar with my writing, you will likely recognize the name John W. Quinn. I first learned about John through my daily “cerebral palsy” Google Alert emails. From these messages I discovered Quinn wrote Someone Like Me- An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy, a book noting how John overcame his cerebral palsy to enjoy a 20 year naval career. Back in April I reviewed Quinn’s book for Yahoo! Voices, calling the book “a valuable read.” Moved so much by the author’s story, I included him in my Yahoo! Voices article “Role Models with Cerebral Palsy,” which also featured 2006 Last Comic Standing winner Josh Blue and the previously profiled Rollin’ With Zach host Zach Anner (read here). I even name dropped the former naval officer along with his praise for my memoir Off Balanced on this blog while promoting my book (currently available on the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, excuse the cheap plug but I’ve got to pay the bills).
Now before you think John and I are nothing but two self-indulgent dudes giving each other virtual high fives and pats on the back, know otherwise. Someone Like Me left me genuinely awed by John W. Quinn’s dedication and physical discipline. Quinn could’ve given up on his naval ambitions after failing his first Navy physical and getting heavily ridiculed for the failure by his recruiter. Instead John spent a year in his basement secretly practicing the part he failed, the duck walk. He then retook the test and passed, becoming the poster boy for the cliche “Anything is possible as long as you put your mind to it.”
Perhaps most impressive about Quinn involves the physical discipline he exhibited in order to keep his cerebral palsy hidden from the Navy, not such an easy task considering the physical affects the disability holds over the human body. For instance, awkward gait and slumped shoulders proved vital to avoid. I don’t believe an able-bodied person can truly appreciate how mentally stressing this can be. Personally I probably can’t even maintain proper posture for five minutes but yet Quinn did this all day, ALL FREAKING DAY, for 20 years, 20 FREAKING YEARS!!! Eight plus months following reading Someone Like Me and I’m still wowed by this fact.
Well, that’s why John W. Quinn remains a reoccurring name within my writing. Honestly, when I emailed John an advance copy of Off Balanced I didn’t expect him to reciprocate my overly positive sentiments towards him. Yet the former naval officer called my book “honest, compelling, and heartfelt” going on to say “Off Balanced should be required reading in every high school in America.” While I didn’t expect such a strong endorsement, the words further my conviction for Off Balanced. I’m certain too I’m not the only one John W. Quinn motivates.