In Chapter Two of his upcoming book “Rise Above,” Ralph Braun discusses the subject of heroes. To those who know Ralph well, it will come as no surprise who his personal heroes are. As you’ll read, the story of their character and circumstances gives a clear understanding of Ralph, as well as BraunAbility, the global company he started in his garage:
~ From Rise Above, Chapter Two: As Heroes Go ~
This will come as no surprise to everyone who knows me, and most of all, to my family, friends, and colleagues, but I am by no means a hero. In fact, I know that by even denying that I am one I risk the admonishment of my 99-year old mother, who to this day still has no problem keeping things in perspective for me. Better yet, to use one of her phrases, she has no problem letting me know when I’m getting “too big for my britches.”
You see, I don’t mind being admired or looked up to because of who I am as a person or because I have built a successful business. But I do mind being called a hero for doing virtually the same things as everyone else. And I’m not the only one; I know plenty of other people with disabilities who feel the same way.
Fortunately, my parents helped me understand and prepare for this complicated dynamic, both in their words and by the example of their actions. As I said earlier, they demanded that I be in the mainstream of society and did everything possible to make it so. They said that I was the same as everyone else, and that just as people without disabilities didn’t walk around marveling at how they weren’t disabled, I shouldn’t go through life bemoaning the fact that I was. Instead, I should work hard, keep my word, be faithful, and practice all of the other values that their own parents taught them.
My dad worked hard for everything he got, which wasn’t much. More than anything, he loved his family and was content to take care of us. That’s why, about six years into his experience at the tree nursery, he and my mom took me to that hospital in Indianapolis that fateful day to see if they could improve my life. That’s why, when the doctor told my parents that it would be a good idea for them to leave me at the hospital so they could study me, they said no. And that’s why my dad carried me on his damaged back, my mom tried everything conceivable to find solutions to my problems, and together, they showed me the way to a life well lived.
As heroes go, I’d have to put my mom and dad right at the top of the list.
We all have people who inspire and motivate us. How much of that inspiration becomes real work, how much of it we put into action is the true test of character. Clearly, Ralph Braun has put his heroes’ influence into practice throughout his life. And for nearly fifty years, a countless number of people with disabilities – as well as their caregivers and families – have benefited from his singular vision.