To: All the participants and volunteers of the 24-hour Ultra Run
From: Chaplain Michael F. Stoepler
Ex. Dir. The Expressive Therapies Center, Toledo
In 1966 at the height of the Vietnam Conflict, a young 1st Lt., a recent graduate of the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina, who had already served two tours of duty in country, was asked to come back to his alma mater and give a talk to help motivate that years senior corps. of cadets, since it was highly likely that they to would be serving a tour before the year was out. Now, those who heard that young Lt. speak, said that he was nothing less than mesmerizing and that while he spoke you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. And when he finished, there was an eruption of cheers, like nothing they had ever experienced before, in sincere appreciation for his words of encouragement and patriotism.
But when a reporter from Charleston, sent to cover the Lt’s address, asked one of those senior cadets in attendance what he (the cadet) felt was the most memorable part of the Lt.’s speech was, the cadet replied somewhat cryptically “the legs”. And when that reporter responded a bit bewildered “what legs?”, the cadet responded “exactly, what legs?”.
You see, while everyone else heard a completely enticing tale about a brave young soldier who had fought the evils of communism and lived to tell his story, the senior cadet, who had known that Lt., as they were both on the same track team just a year prior, saw only the image of his friend, his teammate, his former running companion, without any legs. He saw the absolute brutality and gruesome nature of war, and it made an entirely different imprint upon his mind than it obviously did on the other cadets there that evening.
All trauma has but one thing in common, no matter how it occurs, war, accident, disease etc., and that is the ugliness that it imparts on the minds of those who experience it.
Here, at the Expressive Therapies Center, we strive to lessen that imprint by bringing beauty back into the lives of those so affected.
Through the use of art, music, and dance our care recipients are reminded that goodness does exist as it exists in people such as yourselves who not only run to win or to achieve a personal best but also to help others move on from their devastating experiences.
May God Bless you for your support and charitable beneficence.
With all Sincerity,
Chaplain Michael F. Stoepler