Hi, my name is Sherman Anderson. I have been a part of CARP for almost three years now. I joined CARP when I was in a rough place in my life. My experience with CARP and with the larger Capital program has been life-changing. I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to share the blessing that CARP and the rowing has been in my life.
Because of my age, I took physical education courses, running and doing the best that I could like everyone else with no accommodation and never even thinking to ask. If I remember right, one of my lowest grades ever, in 7th grade, was my PE class because of my slow mile time. Later, in high school, I did the mile-and-a-half at our school’s track. I have a memory of walking around the track doing what I was assigned to do, finishing in something like 15–18 minutes.
To share a little bit more about myself, I have a genetic form a Cerebral Palsy. Because it is genetic, and no one else in my family had similar symptoms, it was hard to deal with growing up. When I was born, the idea of genetic forms of palsy was not even a possibility. The doctors gave me a diagnosis, and said to my parents anything that didn’t hurt me would be okay. With this encouragement, I tried really hard to fit in, to be like everyone else. As you can imagine, growing up it was difficult to be different.
I spent much of the first 40 years of my life trying to fit in, trying to look like everyone else. What it reminds me of was the story of the Ugly Duckling. I felt like if only I could be like the other ducks around me I could and would be happy. In fact I was so repulsed by the idea of not fitting in, when I was invited to participate in an adaptive skiing activity in college I rejected the invitation and told myself that I wasn’t “like those people.”
Fast-forward twenty plus years, some difficult things have happened to me in my life, and I was searching for meaning for connection. When I started coming to CARP, I was not thinking that it was the best fit for me. I was searching for maybe another non-water alternative. Coming to CARP, I learned and more importantly began to experience the joy and exhilaration that I had NEVER felt before in my life. I was able to compete using those parts of my body that were strong, and I knew that with help I could achieve some pretty amazing things. This last week I did a 2000m during practice and I was blown away by the fact that I was able to go 2000m in about 9.52 minutes. The significance of this was not lost on me. Twenty plus years ago to go about that same distance it took me about 18 minutes. Now, with adaptive equipment, with support and encouragement from friends, I was able to finish in half that time.
I still haven’t found my wings yet, I haven’t been able to fly away yet like the ugly duckling from the story, but thanks to CARP I have been able to begin to embrace my difference, to recognize that I am not a duck, that my journey in life can go in a different and rewarding path.
Something that I found the other day that applies to my experience with CARP is a Japanese saying: “A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle.”