Man may become Motivational Speaker to share message of change
By ERIC DECKER of the Greenfield Observer staff
Fifteen years ago, Kevin Meyers should have died. In July 1987, he was hit in the head by a hydroplane boat going 60mph while racing on the Fox River in DePere.
The accident left Meyers physically and mentally scarred. The broken nose would heal but his eyes were critically injured and his sense of smell was gone.
He was angry; angry about being blind, about having to relearn everyday tasks, about being “disabled.”
“I saw a lot of doctors after the accident. I thought for sure that someone would tell me there was something they could do,” he said. “But when they told me there was nothing they could do, it frustrated me to no end.” Time, however, has more that healed those wounds.
Meyers has come to look at his accident as a “wakeup all,” he said. “It's up to me to get what I want out of life,” he said. “It all begins right here. I can't wait for someone to give it to me – I've got to make the effort.
“I look at it as a gift. There are more things that I see now, about myself, others and life, thank when I had sight.”
Meyers learned to cope with his blindness, found a career while learning Braille and now, at 40, is on the verge of becoming a full-time motivational speaker.
“I feel like the Lord has a reason for why I'm still here,” Meyers said. “That's where the motivational speaking comes in. There is a reason to love myself and accept myself as a man without sight, and I should be helping others do the same.”
Finding a new life
Meyers' outlook was not always so bright. Patricia Clason, his speaking coach and director of Creative Learning Institute, said Meyers was angry and depressed when he started working with the institute.
“We started doing work on letting go of his anger,” she said. “He was angry at God… and we had to start finding love and peace in his life again.”
Immediately after his accident, Meryes spent six months in a rehabilitation program, where he learned to use his cane, read braille and use computers.
“I had never really used computers before,” he said. “Once I got into the classes, I wanted to get a four-year degree.
Meyers earned his bachelor's of science degree in business management systems, specializing in computer systems, and landed jobs and M&I Data and about 14 months ago, at Northwestern Mutual Life.
Meyers lives by himself, but has help. Although he is able to get to work via public transportation and carpooling, tasks such as shopping and going through mail require outside assistance.
Meyers said he tries to dispel incorrect percepts about people with disabilities, such as they need constant supervision and assistance.
“I feel that if I go out and do the best I can and help others do the same, people will see that if someone has a disability, it doesn't mean that they can't function in today's society,” Meyers said
Clason said Meyers' ability to let go of his anger has allowed him to blossom as “someone who had a message to deliver and someone who wanted to deliver it.”
A Message of Change
Meyers said his involvement with community organizations helped steer him toward a career as a professional speaker.
“In 1999, I was involved in the Greenfield Jaycees, and they have a number of programs that offer presentations to help folks learn about stuff,” Meyers said. “Those programs were very easy for me to do. I usually did them about what I did to survive without sight.”
He also took part in a program with the Wisconsin Eye Institute in 1999, working with people who had recently lost their sight or were about to lose it.
“It was something I wanted to do more of, to help each person know that they have the ability to get more out of life,” he said.
Meyers said his message to people with and without disabilities is universal – change is inevitable in life and must be embraced.
“Change is part of life, but a lot of times we resist that change,” he said. “We're afraid that it will upset our lives in so many ways, and it's not going to give us that feeling of being secure.
“But we can't stop it. If we look at taking on change as something we can learn from and grow from – taking on change brings so many more things into one's life.”
Weighing the risks
That does not mean, however, that Meyers will make a career change to full-time motivational speaker without considering the risks.
“I've always had a big fear that I could never do it as a full-time job,” he said. “But some of the professionals I've spoken to say it's no problem. I still have some hesitation now.
“If I could speak full time and make a decent living and not have to worry, I'd jump right into it. But maybe it's a lesson that God's trying to teach me. If I let him guide me, he'll make sure that I survive.”