The story of Patrik reads like a fairy tale. But rather than fairy tale, it is a story of never giving up, falling and trying to walk (even literally) and sticking to your dreams. The story of Patrik combines my favorite themes of leadership, diversity, education and non-profit organizations. The article is written not only to help him but also to mention all those involved that made his journey possible. In today´s world, people often think that they cannot change much. Patrik and his story serves as an example that if more individuals and institutions cooperate, the outcome and the overall impact can be truly enormous. Meet an extraordinary young man, who was born with cerebral palsy and lived most of his life requiring the aid of a wheelchair. However, despite the doubts of medical staff, Patrik is now able to walk. This is largely due to Patrik’s incredibly positive attitude. He lives by the motto "Nothing is unattainable - if we do not give up our efforts to attain it." and serves as a testament to the will of the human spirit.
Photo: Oliver Beaujard
The Rotary International Club of Prague is serving as a benefactor to Patrik’s life journey. A fundraising effort is underway to help support this young man’s fees for college and ongoing medical therapies. He attended Prague’s prestigious Open Gate grammar school on a scholarship and now attends Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida on a partial scholarship. Despite undergoing periodic operations which require significant time out of the classroom, Patrik remains at the top of his class. In the midst of all this, Patrik is determined to change people’s attitudes toward those with disabilities, both at home in the Czech Republic and around the world. He speaks regularly to help others recognize the gifts and incredible potential of all people, regardless of their physical and mental abilities.
How do you perceive today’s world?
Today’s world is truly amazing and with all my gratefulness I love to live in it. There is ultimate freedom and such an awesome diversity around us together with a strong connection. World is slowly going forward towards diversities as well as dreamers who believe one can achieve simply anything. I feel that in today’s world capability of achieving anything we can think of tends to be more realistic to people than in the past. From my perspective, people have unlimited options which are often well deserved by various obstacles. They can do exactly what they feel they want to from the bottom of their heart. They are braver and stronger, being aware of their own uniqueness. I personally was considered disabled as, due to serious illness after born, I was unable to walk. Considering to be severely limited along with living in a negatively bound environment where everything was impossible without discussions, I had two options, be or not to be. I decided to keep my inner self and most importantly my dreams - to get maybe even further than those telling me that I am limited, disabled, or even useless or crippled. This dream has had even more powerful fuel behind it - to help others not to struggle as I had to struggle and understand the awesomeness of life regardless its conditions. I feel that people have managed to learn that we all are interconnected and can help each other to overcome obstacles.
I don’t believe in the existence of false hope, I am convinced that people are able to achieve anything in life if they keep being grateful for the obstacles and believe in their dreams. If someone feels disapproval, it’s like: “Don’t believe me, just watch!”
How do you perceive the position of the Czech Republic?
The Czech Republic has still had a long way to learn to understand that we all are more alike that different, that obstacles are here not to stop us but to help us to deserve what we dream of and that instead of jealousy there is something called support and inspiration. From my own experience, the majority of Czechs still perceive success as something what is not right as well as something they will never have. Why than would they be successful if they do not believe they will? Nevertheless, people tend to lack understanding of what is behind the success, the long journey full of obstacles. They feel jealous for other people’s success. Combination of success and disability is than even more harmful to these people. Harmful instead of inspirational. I remember on my journey to learn to walk I had to spent a lot of time in a hospital. Instead of support I often had to face jealousy. People were jealous that I can rest in a hospital, not considering the enormous pain I was going through. They did not even consider that I would switch with them without hesitation. However, at one point I have to agree with them. I personally believe people are just lucky to break their leg for example. It is simply because anything what gets into our lives with no chance to turn it over is an awesome experience and we have to make the best of it. Everything seemingly negative is an obstacle, a tool to really deserve what we wish for and we need to be grateful for it.
How does it happen that a boy originally from the town of Banska Bystrica determined to stick to his dreams ends up studying in the United States and walking instead being on wheelchair?
In the whole world there is nothing we would not be able to achieve if we have courage enough to fight relentlessly all obstacles towards our dreams. Facing of being considered abnormally crazy for this sentence, I had to learn not to care of what people think. I have always been grateful for everything in my life, having it clear that the physical change of being unable to walk did not make me disabled, but unique. As I was able to identify my goals and priorities, I won the scholarship to study in the United States, being selected from around 250 people. Since then, I have had a strong base to turn the impossible into possible. I disregard the limits and take risks, while being in love with my limitless choices and intuition.
The sentence I first said when I was 12, has naturally transformed into a shorter and sharper abbreviation - stick with your dreams, unconditionally!
You are known for the optimist attitude but this is not a common trait characteristics for many Czechs. Were you born with it or did you learn it?
Even as a small child I learned that crying over a spilled milk doesn’t help me at all. I have learned that smile, on the other hand, is powerful and capable of changing sadness into happiness. When I fall and cry, it makes other people sad, whereas if I fall and laugh, it eliminates negative feelings and also change the way people perceive the situation.
The reason why you left to study psychology and business to the US was your ultimate goal to establish a foundation to help other people with different physical abilities to reach their dreams and potential. How far you in establishing such an institution?
Thanks to having an awesome chance to grow academically, physically as well as personally I was able to understand something immeasurably important. If the disability is considered according to needs, then, we all are disabled in some ways. We all have specific needs. We need food – somebody farms it for us. We need clean water – somebody cleans it for us. We need a place to live – somebody builds it for us or at least provides us with necessary materials. We need a job – somebody creates it for us. Or – we do this for somebody else. We all are different in having different needs as well as opportunities to fulfill needs of others – as much as we are the same – we all need help and are able to help. To be concrete, we all are disabled of doing something and we all need help of others, on the other hand, we all are able to do something and we all can help others. This is essential for helping people to reach their full potential regardless of physical conditions.
I am currently working on establishing my own consulting company focused on unlimited choices and the ways to help people to find them. I also feel the need to make a change in healthcare division and instead of supporting big factories for health I wish to create something different, based on biopsychosocial approach and ultimate care, small, individualistic and awesome, helping people in various conditions not to give up their dreams. This is coming along with the foundation, because finances should be the least obstacle in what we need to live life to the fullest. My aim is to provide unlimited support when it comes to health.
I know that there were many individuals as well as numerous institutions that provided help and assistance on your journey. Can you mention those who supported you the most and how? What other kinds of support would you need? And how do you perceive the NGO sector in the Czech Republic in general?
I have been awarded a very unique bright green light from Bakala Foundation. This gave me confidence, firm base and power to always go my own way. I am extremely grateful for this connection full of common inspiration, wise advising and ultimate understanding. I have also been very strongly connected with The Kellners Family Foundation, Our Child Foundation, Deloitte, Kraft Foods, Konto Bariery, Vybor dobre vule foundation and Rotary Club Prague International, while steadily supporting each other. The whole life is about a connection and that is what I need the most, to be able to reach to those who need me. NGOs in the Czech Republic as well as many Czechs still hardly perceive my perspective of unlimited choices, which however results from gratefulness (from what we have achieved), believe (in what we wish to achieve) and happiness (over every obstacle we are lucky enough to be getting across by hard work to deserve what we wish to achieve).
Your final words for Prague Leaders readers…
Ultimate happiness does not depend on external conditions. Please be happy for everything and stick with your dreams unconditionally. If you can, please spread my words in order to help to make the impossible possible.
Final note from the author…
Even though this young man needs still a lot of support, when he asked what kind of support he needs, he did not mentioned the financial one first. He said that „the whole life is about connections and that is what I need the most, to be able to reach to those who need to get to know me“.
Please, reach Patrik at firstname.lastname@example.org
Those of you interested in financial assistance, please visit Rotary Club Prague International website and under the title project Patrik you have the details how to make a donation or contact Linda Štucbartová, the author of the interview.
By Linda Štucbartová
PragueConnect.cz in cooperation with Czech Leaders Magazine