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Jeremy C. Holm

Jeremy C. Holm

Author & American athlete Jeremy C. Holm has spent over half his life in the fast-paced winter sport of bobsled, including as the Head Coach for the US Adaptive Bobsled Team. He has a degree in Journalism and is pursuing a degree in Military History at the American Military University. In addition to motivational speaking and corporate appearances around the world, Jeremy is the author of three books and spends his time camping, hiking, writing and trying to make history, one day at a time.

Wednesday, 08 January 2014 10:53

Goal Setting: The Peter Principle

A recent encounter with a bump in the road (aka "adversity") in the pursuit of one of my goals, for some reason my mind turned to Peter the apostle in the Bible's New Testament. Now, even if you aren't Christian, keep reading because I realized that one of Peter's experiences in his life can teach us quite a bit about setting, keeping and working for goals.

The story in question is found in St. Mathew chapter 14 (or St. Mark 6 and St. John 6). The story tells us that Jesus Christ's disciples, of which Peter was one, were out on a small fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee on their way to Capernaum. We read that it was late at night, during the "fourth watch" which according to the Roman's method of keeping time was "quarta vigilia noctis", or just before dawn, which tells us that the disciples had been rowing and fighting the storm throughout the night.

Now storms on the Sea of Galilee can be quite violent due to the cold air coming down from the hills around the sea where it meets the warmer air around the Galilee due to the lower elevation. So there the disciples were; it was late, it was violently stormy, the wind was roaring, the waves were crashing over the tiny boat's sides and the rain was coming down in sheets. It was at this point that Jesus appeared, walking across the thrashing water. While the disciples feard it was spirit at first, Jesus said "Be of good acheer; it is I; be not afraid." Peter, upon seeing his master, cries out, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." to which Jesus simply responds, "Come." This is where it gets interesting.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013 12:40

Setting Championship New Year's Resolutions

After spending half a lifetime surrounded by some of the best athletes in the world, I've learned quite a bit about setting effective resolutions for life. From Olympic gold medalists to world champions, these competitors continually set the bar high in pursuit of athletic, personal, work and educational goals.

Over the years as an athlete, then a coach, now an athlete again I have taken the lessons I have learned from these champions and applied them in my own life, in addition to my own insights and methods, and have discovered that there is truth to the saying that "you can do anything you set your mind to." The caveat is that it takes careful planning and hard work, so here are five gold-medal tips to help you set and keep those New Year's Resolutions!

1. Discover the Why
So often I encounter people who set great New Year's Resolutions, but fail to achieve them because they set them to impress or appease others.Any goal or objective that we set because of some outside social pressure is bound to fail. Why do you want to go to the gym more in 2014? Is it to improve your health and feel more fit? Or is it because you feel that you need to because society demands it? Why do you want to get a better job in 2014? Is it to feel satisfaction through a better use of your time and abilities? Or is it to tell others you have a fancy title and therefore feel (falsely) important? New Year's Resolutions that last are ones that are set because WE want to set and achieve them. So ask yourself: WHY do you want to set and achieve X, Y, and Z resolutions? Is it for yourself, or for others?

Monday, 02 December 2013 15:24

You Are Not Broken

Several years ago while sitting with a trusted friend we began to reminisce about high school. As I talked about the good and bad that comes with that "joyous" time of life, I thought back to my younger self's battles for identity and the additional silent wars fought against anxiety and depression. Imagine trying to define yourself while dealing with those particular ghosts in the closet?

My friend immediately noticed the quiet change that came over my face. "You ok?"

"I feel sorry for him," I said quietly. And I did. When I thought back to all that my 15-18 year old self had to deal with, I silently wanted to applaud the fact that I had survived. Depression sucks at any age, let alone to a barely-able-to-drive kid who thought his world revolved around bobsled, girls, good grades and my faith. I didn't know words like "cope", "share", "vent", "heal" and "support." All I knew was that I was supposed to keep it together, put the big smile on my face and make it through. Like many guys, I would be damned before I admitted I needed a helping hand.

Monday, 04 November 2013 10:08

The Masks We Wear (And Should Throw Away)

The Masks We Wear

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a charity masquerade dance/event to raise money for a young boy suffering from a costly medical condition. It was a real joy to help provide some surprise relief for this boy’s family as the holiday season (and medical bills) approached.

During the event I observed some fascinating social behaviors displayed by the attendees, 99% of whom were single and fell within the 25-50 age range. I noticed these same mannerisms at several Halloween functions I went to which piqued my curiosity even further.

I’m a people watcher, an “observer”. While I often find myself the center of attention as a speaker or visiting athlete or host, I am perfectly content just sitting with a small group of friends and talking the night away. However, more often than not I do not have the luxury of doing this, so over the years I have learned to quickly evaluate the personalities, mindsets, habits, attitudes, desires and motivations of the crowd, group or person(s) I find myself associating with for whatever event I am at.

As I watched the people at the masquerade and Halloween parties, I noticed that many were willing to give up their uniqueness in a good-intentioned attempt to be unique. Confused? Let me put it another way: I saw people put on the “important” and “required” social and fashion “masks” in order to fit in when they really desired to stand out.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 11:19

The Power of Your Dreams

reach for the starsSeveral years ago I went backpacking with a group down to Paria Canyon in Southern Utah. Located within the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area, this beautiful 50-mile hike was a breathtaking adventure in some of God's greatest creations. With stunning sandstone "sculptures" molded by wind and water and overwhelming 300-400 foot tall cliff walls, this trip was where I fell in love with Southern Utah.

During this trip we would sleep out under the stars and I remember one night gazing up into the cosmos and trying to count the infinite number of bright lights that hung in the night sky. The air was so clear down there that I felt as though I could raise up my hand and touch the stars. 

Touching the stars. Not many of us try to do that anymore. As kids we all had these marvelous dreams and hopes for the future, but somewhere along the way we start to lose that magic, that special spark of "anything is possible". Reality sets in and imagination goes out the window. No wonder so many people in this world are bored, sad, lonely and discouraged! You can see it in their eyes; they've stopped dreaming.

They've stopped reaching for the stars. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013 16:08

Bobsled 101: Glossary, Photos, Videos & More

Over the years I have been asked just about every question you can think of when it comes to bobsled. From "What do they make the ice out of?" to "What if you put flour on the sled's body to help with aerodynamics?" (true story) so I wanted to compile a brief summary of some key terms and components of my beloved sport.

These are very basic definitions and descriptions designed for the general public, so my colleagues in the sport may find this page redundant. But for those of you who want to learn more about the world's BEST winter sport, read on!

THE SLED:

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  • Bunk: The four wings on the sides of the bobsled (two in front, two in back) that keep the body of the bobsled from hitting the walls. Also, in Four-Man bobsled the two side pushers load into the sled by stepping on the Bunks.
  • Brakes: The Harrow-type implements that dig into the ice once a bobsled crosses the finish line. Controlled by the team’s Brakeman. The brake handles are located on the brakeman’s sides in a four-man sled or to their front in a two-man sled.
  • Four-man Bobsled: A Four-Man bobsled measures 3.8 meters (about 12 feet) in length and weighs no more than 630 kilograms (1,389 pounds) with crew. A Four-Man bobsled crew consists of the Pilot, a Brakeman and two Side Pushers. 4-man sleds can often reach slightly higher speeds on the track than Two-Man bobsleds.
  • Two-man Bobsled: A 2-man bobsled measures 2.7 meters (about 8 feet) in length and weighs no more than 390 kilograms (860 pounds) with crew. Crews of a 2-man are made up of the pilot, or driver, and a brakeman.

EQUIPMENT:

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  • Bobspikes: The special sprint shoes we use in bobsled that include hundreds of sharp steel spikes on the soles of the shoes which allow us to push on the ice. Those spikes cannot be thicker than one mm or longer than four mm.
  • Burn Suit: (also burn vest) The special friction-dissipating shirt worn underneath speedsuits to protect athletes from ice burns in the case of a crash.
  • Helmets: Bobsled helmets need a certified EEC safety rating such as OKM or DOT and protect our heads from the serious injuries that can result in memory loss, reduced physical mobility, or perhaps even death.
  • Runners: Four highly polished steel sliders on which the sled rides. It is prohibited to heat the runners or treat them with any gaseous, liquid or solid substances in order to improve their sliding capabilities.
  • Scabbards: Protective covers that go over the bobsled’s runners which allow teams to move their sleds around with damaging their polished surfaces.
  • Shims: Thin sheets of metal placed between the sled’s Runner and Shoe to reduce chatter and help with alignment.
  • Speedsuit: Those awesome superhero spandex suits we wear for competitions.

ATHLETES:

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Brakeman: Athlete who sits in the back of the sled in Two-Man and Four-Man bobsled.
Driver: see Pilot
Pilot: The athlete who drives the sled by use of steering ropes and the steering system which controls the front two Runners. The Pilot sits in front in both two-man and four-man bobsled.
Pushers: In the four-man sled, two additional athletes help push the sled and then sit in the sled between the pilot and brakeman.

THE TRACK:

Braking Stretch: The section of the track just beyond the Finish Line where teams use their brakes to decelerate. It’s the part on TV where all the ice is spraying out to the side.
Buzzer: An audible noise that lets the team know the track is clear for them.
Control Tower: Just like at an airport, the track’s Control Tower monitors track clearance, the timing system, the video system and more. They’re the bosses.
Cornering: When a bobsled team heads through one of the track’s curves.
Course: See Track
Finish Area: The area at the bottom of a track where teams remove their bobsleds from the track and place the sled into its Scabbards.
Finish Clock: The timing scoreboard that sits near the finish area.
Kreisel: A turn on a bobsled track that curves back on itself and is between 270 and 320 degrees around the circumference.
Labyrinth: A portion of the track that consists of a three-turn combination.
Line: The best or most efficient route around a track. A "high line" takes a sled closer to the top of a turn while a "low line" takes a sled closer to the bottom, or belly, of a turn.
Lip: A reinforced safety barrier that sits on the top edge of turns and prevents sled from flying off the track. Hit these and you’ll bounce off back down the turn.
Omega: a large turn that looks like the Greek letter Omega or a ‘W’.
Push Block: A wooden block frozen into the ice on the Start Ramp that the team uses to push off of during the Push Start.
Start Area: The top area of the track where teams prepare and queue their sleds.
Start Clock: a countdown clock off to the left of the Start Ramp that contains a green light and a buzzer to let the athletes know when the track is cleared for their run. Bobsled teams have 60 seconds from this point to break the first timing point.
Start Ramp: The Start Ramp on a track is the initial decline that bobsled teams push down and load into their sleds for their Run down the course.
Sturz: (also 10-81) German word for crash.
Track Crew: The talented professionals who keep the track running smoothly. They clean and shape the ice in the curves and monitor the overall conditions of the course.

THE RACES:

Disqualification: (also DQ’d) When an athlete or team is found to have broken one of the rules he, she or they are Disqualified from the race.
Heat: A heat in bobsled consists of one rotation of the race order.
Loading: The portion of the Push Start where the athletes load into their seats in the sled.
Officials: A team of dedicated professionals that help make sure everyone is adhering to the rules of the game from the start of the competition to the end.
Push Start: The portion of a run where the team pushes the bobsled down the Start Ramp and loads in. This is all about speed and power and the race can be won or lost with a Push Start.
Run: (also decent) A run consists of a full trip down the course for a team.
Timing Points: The Timing Points on a track are locations where sensors have been embedded into the course’s Short Walls so as to measure a team’s speed and time spent on their current Run.

ORGANIZATIONS:

FIBT: Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing, the international governing body for bobsled and skeleton.
IOC: The International Olympic Committee is international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation based in Lausanne, Switzerland which is the supreme authority of the worldwide Olympic movement.
IPC: The International Paralympic Committee is an international non-profit organisation and the global governing body for the Paralympic Movement.
USOC: Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., the United States Olympic Committee serves as both the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States.
USBSF: The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is the national governing body for bobsled and skeleton for the U.S.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013 14:19

Jeremy's Quotes


Looking for a good quote for a presentation, paper, Facebook status update or just in need of a pick-me-up today? Here's a collection of some of ideas and principles that I have jotted down over the years. Use them, share them, love them! Just remember to give me credit if you use one of the quotes or link back to my site!

"Losing what we think is good for us is painful until we find what is perfect."

"If you can keep a firm grasp on the mental image of who you want to be you won't find yourself wasting time on pointless pursuits. Focus your energies on reaching your star, not playing in the mud."

"I would rather live with failure than regret. I can learn from my mistakes and failures, but regret is like a cancer that eats away at my conscience and resolve with that great question, 'what might have been?' Don't be afraid to try something great just because you fear failure. Fear regret."

"No one can light the fire within you. That power is solely yours. You can make it burn brightly enough to fill your whole life with power. Or, you can let it go cold and die out. Decide right now to stoke the inner fires and make today your day."

"A man or woman must decide his or her fate and follow it."

"Too many let the world tell them what they aren't instead of remembering who they are."

"Sometimes life hits hard. Some days we have to dig deep and fight back with every ounce of willpower we possess. But that's how we come out on top, by not giving up. Those who find the greatest joys in life are those who play King-of-the-Hill with life...and win."

"We have to be loyal the greatness within ourselves."

"Anyone who was walked those hallowed grounds at Arlington, Gettysburg and Normandy knows that many have come before us in this world. Men and women who have gave their all to give us this chance at life. Don't you think we owe it to them to do something with it?"

"Why are world class athletes so happy? Because they are goal-oriented people. They see a challenge in everything they do. While the average man or woman is complacent doing 'a good job', champions are not satisfied until they have done their best."

"You have to believe in yourself before anyone else will.
You have to work hard before anyone else can push you.
You have to dream dreams before anyone can set goals for you.
You have to take chances before anyone will take one on you.
You have to step up to the plate before someone else will pinch hit.
You must do what is necessary before anyone else will sacrifice.
The best way to succeed? Don't wait for others."

"Don't worry about having an abundance of talent. When you find your dreams, you'll find a way. Life is a roller-coaster. Enjoy the ride."

"When do you quit? When do you throw in the towel? Is it when you're afraid? When you're discouraged? When you're lonely or the competition looks too tough? If you want to succeed in life, learn to take a few hits and keep on going. You might stumble, but keep going. If you won't let anything stop you, nothing can."

"There will always be people who doubt your dreams. People who may laugh or try to dissuade you. They'll say life is hard, reality too harsh for dreamers like you. I disagree. Life is full of challenges, but it also has a way of helping those who pursue their dreams to the end. Mankind's greatest inventors and teachers and business owners and athletes have all learned this one lesson: life is not an enemy to be conquered. Its a friend to be embraced."

"Want a good night's sleep? Give a good day's work."

"When you stop dreaming, you start dying."

"Set specific goals in your life. Goals that will be like anchoring pitons for a rock climber. Decision-making has power, discipline has success. Don't just slide by in life. Climb! The view from the top is always worth the effort."

"Some people feel that because of their mistakes life won't give them a second chance. That's its too late for them, too late for happiness. And it's a lie. Life is about second chances. For all of us. Don't ever let that lie enter your mind, don't even entertain it. Your life is precious and your future is clear. Don't waste it by giving up because life hasn't given up on you."

"Having studied communications, I learned how important talking can be. Most important of all is how we talk to ourselves. When we have the ability to inspire ourselves from within, that is when we become truly great."

"Now is your time. Now is your window of opportunity to achieve greatness. Go out there and take it."

"Sometimes we look into the deepest parts of our souls and we don't like what we find. We look at our faces in the mirror and don't like what we see. The best part about life is that every day is a new day with new horizons and opportunities. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow doesn't exist. Today is your day to make your life what you want it to be."

"Great adversity like an old friend for each obstacle we face is but a chance to improve and grow. Every mountain can be climbed and the view from the peak is incredible."

"There are dark days in all of our lives. Days when when all hope seems lost. It is on those days that we must look inside ourselves and find the strength that we never knew we had. When we do so, we will find that hidden within our hearts was the courage to move mountains of doubt and fear."

"Excuses are easy to make. Efforts require a bit more work."

"No one can carry your dreams for you. Oh, sure, others can encourage you and support you. But you must be the one to pay the price. You're the one who has to go to the bank of life and deposit all your blood, sweat, toil and tears. Then, and only then, will life open its vault of success and pour out incredible things into your life."

"Some of us have things in our lives that are holding us back. Fears, doubts, bad habits, negative thought patterns and so on. Consider these things reefs upon the ocean of life. Until you decide to sail around instead of into them, you'll never be able to reach the paradise you've been dreaming about."

"The question isn't 'Who am I to be successful in life?' What should be asking yourself everyday is, 'Who am I not to be?' Hiding out in life because of fear might be safe, but that's not what we are here for."

"If we would put half as much effort into working towards our goals as we do telling ourselves all the reasons we can't, we'd be done already."

"Happiness can be found where you are right now. It's all about perspective. Outside sources can bring pleasure and sensual stimulation, but true happiness comes from within. No one can take that from you."

"It isn't about how much money you make, what club you belong to, what car you drive, how big your house is, how many toys you have in your garage or how big your investment portfolio is. All these things can be taken away in an instant. True happiness and true purpose comes from improving ourselves, helping others and sticking to our internal guiding principles."

"Sometimes we don't want to take that big step, that one leap of faith that will bring our goals within reach. To me that's like hiking 90% of Mt. Everest, looking at the top and saying, 'Gosh, I just can't make it. Oftentimes in life we are closer to our goals than we think."

"We must all face our Valley Forges, our beaches of Normandy, our Gettysburgs. The hardest of steel is forged in the hottest of furnaces. Don't be afraid of the hard times. You're stronger than you think you are and will come through them all the better."

"The only difference between 'successful' men and women and the "average" person is that they choose to be."

"An unguided ship has a small chance of reaching its intended destination. Make things happen in your life! Take the helm."

"Great ideas are much like a seed. Unless they are planted, nourished and cultivated they can never be harvested."

"There are only twenty-four hours in a day. We don't have time for fear."

"Some of us WHYNE too much. We why-me this and why-me that. Most of the time you won't get an answer. Don't waste your energies in fruitless whyning. Grit your teeth, put your game face on and get back out there."

"You cannot comprehend how powerful you really are. Here you are, on this beautiful earth, surrounded by limitless opportunities to make something of your life. You truly can become anything you want to be. So instead of wondering if you have what it takes to succeed, tell yourself that you don't have what it takes to fail."

Fire on Ice by Jeremy C Holm"We have each been given the tools necessary to either create a powerful destiny or a dismal future."

"Your dreams don't have to be big enough to change the whole world, just yours."

"A lot of times people who try to put down your dreams are secretly afraid that if you succeed, they will have to answer the question, "What might I be capable of?' Your dreaming gives others light and hope."

"Time to ponder and meditate on our lives is one of the healthiest things we can do. Sometimes we have to suck up our pride and eat crow and ask our hearts for directions."

"Surround yourself with good people, trustworthy people. When you have others who care for and support you, you understand that a faithful friend can be one of the sweetest joys in life."

"There's a big difference between those who feel that they have to get out of bed in the morning to face life and those who choose to do so because they can't waste another minute of the day."

"The greatest treasure we can obtain in this life is a life well lived."

"When you learn to focus your every thought, your every energy and your very soul on whatever it is you want out of life, you'll find a passion and a purpose that will make any obstacle seem small, any disappointment a challenge and every success a flood of joy."

Wednesday, 05 June 2013 19:05

Resources for Mental Health

"Being a champion means knowing its more than ok to reach out
for help; its the greatest step we can take."

-Jeremy Holm

I understand that at times the challenges in life can seem overwhelming, but they're not unbeatable. If you feel that you need some encouragement or guidance, the kindest, most courageous thing you can do for yourself is acknowledge that its ok to ask for help. On this page we have put together a list of caring professional services who are there for you. Many are toll-free, 24-hours a day and can help you feel the happiness and hope that you desire and deserve. No challenge is too great when we face it together.*

Resource Categories Include:
Suicide/Depression Information
Alcohol/Tobacco/Drug Use
Addiction Recovery
Domestic Abuse/Rape/Child Abuse/Date Abuse
Self-Image/Eating Disorders/Steroid Abuse
Sites Just for Teens

 Suicide/Depression Hotlines:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline - 1-800-273-TALK, a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
National Hopeline Network - 1-800-SUICIDE , this incredible organization has received over 5, 200, 000 calls. You are not alone and they are there to listen and help.
Vet2Vet - 1-877-VET2VET, a toll-free serivce to help veterans speak with trained peer veterans ready to provide hope and help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Boys Town National Hotline - 800-448-3000, a 24 hour short-term crisis hotline providing callers with crisis counseling, resource information and referrals to local services, with a focus on issues affecting children, families and teens.
Teen Online - (310) 855-HOPE, Do you need help working something out? Do you want to talk to someone who understands, like another teen? Teen Online is there to help.

 Alcohol/Tobacco/Drug Use:

Alcoholic's Anonymous - Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
Women for Sobriety - (215) 536-8026, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women overcome alcoholism and other addictions. It is, in fact, the first national self-help program for women alcoholics.
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services - 1-877-SAMHSA-7, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.
Teen Drug Abuse.org - 866.323.5611, Provides prompt information to teens needing assistance in finding the right treatment center. Referrals to Treatment Centers are offered at NO CHARGE as a community service.
Drug Free - (212) 922-1560, The Partnership at Drugfree.org is a nonprofit organization that helps parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children.

 Addiction Recovery:

SMART Recovery - 866-951-5357, SMART Recovery® helps people recover from all types of addiction and addictive behaviors, including: alcoholism, drug abuse, substance abuse, gambling addiction, and addiction to other substances and activities.
24 Hour Addiction Helpline - (888) 237-5874, a service to help drug addiction patients find support, referrals, placement assessments, free referrals for drug addiction and alcohol abuse counseling, free insurance verifications, free scholarship location assistance, and financing information.

 Domestic Violence/Rape/Child Abuse/Dating Abuse:

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1.800.799.SAFE (7233), The National Domestic Violence Hotline creates access by providing 24-hour support through advocacy, safety planning, resources and hope to everyone affected by domestic violence.
Safe Horizon - 1.800.621.HOPE (4673), Safe Horizon provides victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, rape and sexual assault with a wide range of comprehensive support
Child Help - 1-800-4-A-CHILD, Childhelp® is a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect.
LoveIsRespect - 1-866-331-9474, Provides resources for teens, parents, friends and family, Peer Advocates, government officials, law enforcement officials and the general public. All communication is confidential and anonymous.

 Self-Image/Eating Disorders/Steroid Use:

National Eating Disorder Association - 1-800-931-2237, Supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care.
ANAD -630-577-1330, Provide answers to sufferers of eating disorders and their friends and families about ED symptoms, contact information for treatment, support group locations and resource people contact information.
Steroid Abuse Help - 1 (888) 898−5706, If you have questions about whether you or a loved one may need steroid abuse help, please contact their call center. Admissions counselors are available 24 hours a day.
Association Against Steroid Use - An organization committed to providing crucial information and statistics on the dangers and issues surrounding anabolic steroid abuse to not only potential abusers, but to Parents, Educators, and Sporting Organizations.

 Sites Just For Teens:

ReachOut.com - 1 (800) 273-TALK, Life can be hard and this site is all about teens and young adults who have been there too.
Not My Kid -Their goal is to increase awareness of the challenges teens face, provide information and offer resources to support the success of students, families and educators.

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 *Please note, we are not a medical or legal organization. While we offer support, information and options, we are unable to make a diagnosis and cannot give medical, legal or other direct advice, nor can we provide ongoing support. We offer the above contact information to help you explore the options available so you can move forward in your situation and make informed choices.



74 years ago a chilly December rain fell in the mountains of Leyte, an island in the South Pacific that most of us would be hard-pressed to find on a map, but for the paratroopers of America's 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Leyte had become a place of hellish reality. 

The year was 1944 and the world was full of a war that threatened the "peace on earth, goodwill towards men" of all mankind. The most basic freedoms of every man, woman and child, even the right to life, was on the line and the 511th had been formed to fight against the forces of oppression and darkness. 

Most of the paratroopers were young, between 18-21. One "man" in my grandfather's D Company, was seventeen-year-old Pfc. Billy Pettit who lied about his age in order to enlist and serve his country. Nicknamed "Billy the Kid" by his comrades, Billy's face and eyes now held the same grim look of his brothers in arms who had shared in the horrors of fighting the Japanese in close quarters day after day for weeks on end.

Sitting on a hill overlooking Ormoc Bay on Leyte's west coast, D Company's CO Captain Stephen E. Cavanaugh (pictured right) surveyed his men, primarily those in 1st Platoon under 1st Lieutenant Andrew Carrico III.

The 32 men of 1st Platoon were tired. They had started hiking from Dulag into Leyte's interior on November 23 and fought their way straight up the mountains' 4,400-feet heights and then down the other side towards Ormoc Bay. Along the way they endured torrential rains every day, constant Bonzai attacks from the enemy at night and vicious battles in the jungles nearly every step of the way. Nicknamed "The Angels", the 511th's paratroopers were being asked to do what other regular Army units had attempted to do: eliminate the Japanese supply line that ran through the mountain ridges.

They were now on Day 38 of their successful-yet-costly mountain and jungle campaign. Many men in D Company were now suffering from malaria or dengue fever (or both) and the fevers and digestive problems only added their misery. Their once trim and fit bodies were covered in jungle ulcers and most had lost over twenty pounds or more due to their inability to resupply in the mountains. Just over two weeks earlier, after having nothing to eat for seven days, D Company had eaten a dog with a few camotes they had managed to dig up in a nearby field.

Nearby, Lieutenant Carrico (pictured right) was tending to 1st Platoon. The day before, Carrico, with Cavanaugh traveling behind, had led 1st Platoon in a final assault on a hill near where they now sat in a mango grove. Lieutenant Carrico's 31 men had charged up the hill and eliminated more than 300 of the enemy who had been stubbornly holding the entire 11th Airborne back from reaching Ormoc Bay. The Americans were sick, angry at losing so many friends to the enemy, and more than ready to end their time on this God-forsaken island.

As D Company's Pfc. William L. Dubes noted, "It was a nightmare."

Monday, 21 May 2018 10:16

The Miraculously Personal Atonement

We all have times in our lives when we plead for the Lord to heal our pains, hurts and struggles. I know I have and after thinking of Jesus Christ's mortal ministry, I thought, "If only I was there, THEN I could be healed." I felt the same inclinations when I read of the Savior's many miracles performed among the Nephites after his resurrection. As a young teenager, I was saddened when that miracle did not come. When the tears came, when the prayers were desperately given, when the long days or dark nights came, I wondered WHY? Why was I not deserving of such a healing? Why could I not obtain the divine assistance I so badly needed? 

In May of 2018, nearly twenty years after the battles with anxiety began, I was pondering 3 Nephi 17 during a Sacrament meeting, something I had many other times in my life. But on this day, things were different. As I imagined being there that day when the Resurrected Lord invited those who were afflicted to come forward, instead of receiving a full healing, I clearly saw His face as he smiled at me. I understood that he knew ME. He knew why I had come forward, what blessing I was seeking, and why I felt I needed it. And even though he knew infinitely more than I did about my own eternal journey, he did not belittle my petition or my desires. 

But the blessing I received was not one of complete healing. No, as Christ laid his hands upon my head, his blessing was one of strength; he specifically blessed me with the strength I needed to not just endure my trials, but to overcome them every day. It was a gift of courage, peace, strength, capacity and power beyond my own.  

And then I realized those blessings are exactly the same promises given to each of us every day. Because of the infinite power of the Savior's Atonement, because of his grace and mercy and ability to enable and empower us, we can have those very blessings whenever we need them. We do not need to have the Savior lay his hands on our heads as he did for the Nephites in 3 Nephi 17 or the many he healed in the Holy Land.

No, through prayer, fasting, Priesthood blessings and study and faith, we can receive the very same blessing I felt the Savior enlighten me with during my ponderings. 

As Br. Brad Wilcox testifies, "Grace works."

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