Rise Above/Sinking Below

I had the title of this week’s essay before I had the substance. I’m reading a book penned by the creator of the Braun Corporation. Ralph Braun wrote Rise Above to chronicle his successful international business converting vehicles to include lifts and ramps for handicap use.

Mr. Braun was diagnosed in 1946, at age six, with muscular dystrophy. His doctors predicted he would not live past thirteen. He defied this dire prediction and lived to a ripe old age of 72. Because there was nothing available for the wheelchair-bound youth, he decided to build for himself, in his 20s, a motorized scooter to enable an easier way to get to work which was close by his home. From there, he converted an old post office truck in order to carry him and the scooter to work when he moved further away. Eventually, he built his company to what it is today by selling his revolutionary products to others with mobility problems.

From what I gather from the book, his rise to prominence was not without challenges. He seemed to be able to “rise above” them. It got me to the second part of my essay’s title. Mr. Braun never at any point seemed to have any doubts that he could conquer the obstacles in his path or “sink below” them. I think I would have liked it if he had shared some glimpse of frailty to body or spirit. There was none I could see; he always had a can-do attitude with lots of determination thrown in. His illness, although a great motivator, took a backseat to the actual story.

Wisely, I read between the lines of that book. Having a chronic illness gives me the ability to appreciate just what Mr. Braun overcame to realize his dreams. At first, I may have wanted to know about the gritty details of his day-to-day life, his sometimes “sinking below” days, but, really, it wasn’t necessary. I could most likely accurately guess at what those days were like.

We own a BraunAbility van. I’m grateful Ralph had more “rise above” days than the other kind. We all benefit from innovators like him who show us what could be done with an idea.

Makes one want to sit back and innovate something, doesn’t it?




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. annaemeyer
    Nov 11, 2014 @ 20:01:31

    I very much enjoyed reading this! I have MS, and though I am not in a wheelchair, my grandma was for the last 20 years or so of her life. I remember playing with the lift when I was 10 or so. It was just fun to go up and down for no reason at all. 🙂 Blessings to you!



    • Miss Jan's Words
      Nov 12, 2014 @ 07:40:05

      Thank you! I have three small grandsons and they love racing up and down my outside-the-house ramp. I think they feel it was built just for their enjoyment!


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