What would you do if you lost both your legs? If I was an amputee, I don’t think becoming a triathlete would be at the top of my list. (Let alone competing in the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.) Losing my legs would be unthinkable and competing in triathlons would require unthinkable courage. And strength. And perseverance. And an extremely high tolerance for pain.
But then again, I’m not an amputee and I’m not Scott Rigsby.
In the past four years, I’ve had the rare privilege of becoming friends with a man of unthinkable courage. It’s a bit of an unthinkable story how Scott and I first met. One of those divine appointments that you just can’t manufacture on your own. If you know me, you know I love great stories and the power of transformational stories. Well here’s one of those stories I wasn’t looking for. This story found me…
On Thanksgiving Day back in 2007, my son Joseph and I ran the Dana Point Turkey Trot 5k. Joseph was in sixth grade and we both had fun running his first race together. A few weeks later I came home from work and as I rifled through the junk mail, I discovered a Runner’s World magazine I hadn’t ordered. Who ordered this, I thought and then realized it was a complementary copy that came with our race registration.
As I flipped through the magazine, my eyes lasered in on one of the most amazing pictures I’d ever seen: A linebacker-sized guy leaping forward on curved prosthetic limbs with lava rocks in the background. This is amazing, I said to myself as I scanned the article. Who does triathlons with no legs…let alone the Ironman?!
That’s a 2.4 mile swim. 112 miles on the bike. Top it off with a 26.2 marathon.
Swim. Bike. Run. 140.6 miles. All in a day’s work…with no legs.
After racing through the details of Scott’s story, he gave God the credit for giving him the strength to get through it all. I said to myself, I have to call this guy.
So I googled Scott Rigsby. Looked up his website. That night we spoke on the phone for forty-five minutes. Who’s telling your story, I asked him. You have a story that has to be told!
Six weeks later, I picked Scott up at Orange County airport and we began the process of shooting a short film series about his life. Since then, Scott has become a regular part of the O’Connor family when he gets out to the West Coast. (The dude’s from Atlanta with a lot of South in his mouth!) He’s like an uncle to my four kids, all of who have lots of Scott’isms and whom he loves to mercilessly tease. Run Forest! Run!
If you know Scott, his love for laughter and people, you’ll appreciate that he is the O’Connor family’s Forrest-Gump-Lieutenant Dan-Ricky-Bobby-Terminator-funny-uncle kinda guy. Through the Scott Rigsby Foundation, Scott’s also an amazing friend to Wounded Warriors and youth with physical disabilities. A remarkable man who keeps getting up when he falls down. A man who has lost much, but who would not trade in his two prosthetic legs for the real thing because of everything he’s learned along the way. Come alongside Scott Rigsby and you’ll find yourself with a life-sized Energizer Bunny with a huge heart who just keeps running down the road on Transformer legs…click, click, click. In spite of unthinkable obstacles, Scott continues to trust God, love people and inspire thousands of people along the way.
Scott Rigsby is a man of unthinkable courage.
I have not lost my legs, but I want what he’s got.
Click here if you’d like to view Unthinkable: The Scott Rigsby Story. It’s available for purchase on the Worship House Media website.
Questions: What inspires you most about Scott Rigsby’s story? Who is one person you’ve seen demonstrate unthinkable courage? In what area of your life do you need unthinkable courage today?
I’d love your thoughts and comments.