WINONA LAKE — Overcoming challenges and learning what one’s next steps are in life was the overall message of Josh Sundquist’s speech during Grace College’s chapel session today, Feb. 21. The college hosted Sundquist as its keynote speaker for Career Week.
Sundquist is an international motivational speaker, as well as an author, comedian and Paralympian. During his discussion at the school’s Thursday chapel, he focused on cracking a few jokes while sharing his life experiences as a means to inspire the students in attendance.
When he was 9 years old, Sundquist was diagnosed with bone cancer and underwent chemotherapy and the amputation of his left leg before being declared cancer-free at age 13. Since then, Sundquist has written two memoirs and competed as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team.
Sundquist started his presentation by comparing the loss of his leg to losing a tooth.
“Losing a leg is similar to how, say, the Tooth Fairy works,” said Sundquist. “Put it under your pillow and you get a handicapped parking pass.”
He then emphasized the importance of having passion and drive to look for a path to take after graduation.
“After all, we can’t just expect God to slide over into our DMs and give us career advice,” said Sundquist. “Just be grateful when you find something that excites you and stick with it.”
Sundquist also discussed the importance of being a good friend to others through a story about taking on softball less than a month after his amputation.
“I was scared that I’d be judged about my appearance,” said Sundquist, noting his baldness as a child due to chemotherapy. “But I knew I had a good group of friends when they all came to my house and shaved their heads in my backyard.”
He discussed the struggles of attempting to play softball for the first time after losing his leg and how it took him over 20 tries to finally hit the ball.
“It was at that game .. .that was the moment I decided to take as many strikes as I needed to,” Sundquist said. “Generally speaking, you do get as many strikes as you’re willing to take.”
Sundquist also talked about the hardest walk he ever had to make: walking to the operation room.
“I can remember a doctor and nurse bringing out a wheelchair for me before the amputation,” said Sundquist. “And I just looked up at the doctor and said, ‘I think that I am going to walk.'”
He transitioned this to his participation in the Paralympic Games in Italy.
“And walking into that stadium was the most beautiful walk of my entire life,” said Sundquist. “Yet the most beautiful walk of my entire life only happened because of the toughest walk of my life.”
Sundquist then asked those in attendance to ask themselves three questions.
“What is it time to let go of? What do you stand for? What is your next step?”
He concluded his presentation by telling students about his participation on the U.S. Amputee Soccer Team.
“After wanting so badly to join a travel team ever since I was a kid, I finally got to do so,” said Sundquist. “But you have to remember that sometimes, the one uniform that we end up getting isn’t the one we thought we wanted in the first place.”