Hymas: 'Your choices define your legacy'

Oct 6, 2017

Always find a way to help and serve, said speaker Chad Hymas to an audience at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School on October 5. Your drive to help, the beliefs you carry—those will be your legacy, for hundreds of years after you die.

Hymas, a well-known motivational speaker, was paralyzed in 2001, when a 2,000 pound bale of hay crashed down on him as he fed a herd of elk on his farm. The story he told Thursday though, began long before that fateful night.

Onto the screen flashed the image of a smiling young disabled woman in an electric wheelchair. "This is Melanie," Hymas said. "I went to school with her."

Hymas, at the time, was the basketball captain. He admitted that behind closed doors, the topic of Melanie came up from time to time, usually as the butt of a joke. "I never said, 'Hey Melanie, want us to take you to class. We're usually late anyway so it's a win-win'," he joked. "We never said a thing to her."

Melanie came up again when Hymas had the team over the night before a big game, in the form of unflattering jokes. Hymas had forgotten one thing though; his parents were still nearby. His father had overheard.

"He simply turned the music down," Hymas recounted, "and told me that he thought I was better than that."

The next day, Hymas' father showed up at the homecoming rally in a suit; a big no-no in his laid-back area of Utah, said Hymas, who was suitably embarrassed. His father took him and his team to meet Melanie, whom they talked with for a half-hour.

"She was a real person," he marveled. "She told us her favorite things, and her best friends."

Hymas has used the story of his father for as long as he's been publicly speaking, but just this September, his father's legacy reappeared.

"I told my sons 'no dating' until they're sixteen, and of course they both got homecoming dates," he said. "I was furious until they explained what had happened."

Both had chosen to take special-needs students whom they were friends with to homecoming. "Dad, she's a senior and she's never been to a dance," his youngest son Kyler told him.

Hymas was stunned. "Imagine if, all those years ago, my father hadn't done that," he said. "If he hadn't none of these kids would've had this experience. That's my father's legacy, and that will last well beyond his death. Those kids will never forget that night."

How does one leave a legacy? Open yourself up to change. Find a way to help, and never be afraid to ask for it yourself.

"People say I'm paralyzed, I'm not paralyzed," Hymas declared. "I see worse cases of paralysis every day. True paralysis—that's a paralysis of the mind. People who won't change their beliefs, won't change their habits. Where would I be if I had refused to change my thoughts and routines after I was paralyzed? I would never be able to adjust to this life."

Adversity, Hymas said, is what makes an individual. "How you handle adversity is what separates you from your peers. We all take to it a different way."

One thing we do always have, he stated, is the option to choose our thoughts and feelings on the way forward.

"My dreams are coming true because of what I choose to believe," Hymas told th audience. "Be careful what you believe. It will dictate what you do."