There is a 500-mile walk in northern Spain called the Camino de Santiag that is a pilgrimage made by many people each year. Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray always wanted to make that trip together, especially after they watched a travelogue about the journey. Even though Justin has a disease that confines him to a wheelchair, Justin told Patrick that he wanted to make the journey. Patrick said, “I’ll push you.” Little did they know how incredibly difficult the journey would be and how life-changing it would all become.
Keynote Speakers Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray
In their presentation, these two inspirational speakers tell the story of their trip on the trails of Camino de Santiago. The story is documented in a film called I’ll Push You, a best-selling book of the same name, and a children’s book called The Push.
The lessons they learned apply to everyone’s life.
The Impossible is Possible with Enough Help
Getting up three steep mountains on narrow rocky trails in a wheelchair means sometimes you have to be carried. Justin needs help from the moment he wakes up to the end of each day and he had to become comfortable with the idea of receiving help. In their deeply inspirational keynote speech, Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray teach that there is nothing wrong or shameful about needing help or asking for it. Letting people help you makes them feel better.
Audience Takeaway: When you deny someone the opportunity to help you, you deny them joy in life.
You Never Know Unless You Try
Another life lesson conveyed to the audience by inspirational keynoters Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray is not to be stopped by the idea of how difficult something might be. Instead, try it to see how difficult it actually is. You may be surprised about what you can do to overcome the obstacles.
Audience Takeaway: When you move ahead towards a goal that you don’t necessarily know how to achieve, the unexpected happens. Some goals are extremely challenging to the point of making you want to give up but suddenly and only due to the effort, new things occur to make it all possible.
Lead by Getting Out of the Way
On the pilgrimage, Justin and Patrick met were people – strangers who soon became friends. At times, it would have not been possible to continue on the journey without the help of those total strangers. At one point and thanks to that support, Patrick is amazed that all the weight of the trip is temporarily off his shoulders. Both the physical weight and the emotional burden are gone. He recalls watching others push Justin up the mountain while he was simply walking along. He realized then that he would never have been able to complete the journey solely through his own efforts.
Audience Takeaway: Sharing leadership is part of being a good leader.
Living Life To The Fullest
Justin and Patrick have been friends forever. They were born in the same hospital on the same day in the town of Boise, Idaho. They grew up together. They each got married to nice women and both raised a family.
As a young adult, it became apparent that something was wrong when Justin started to lose the ability to run in a coordinated fashion. Over time he learned that he had a progressive auto-immune illness, one that will eventually kill him. However, in spite of these incredibly difficult challenges, Justin continues to achieve so much with the full support of his family and his best friend.
Keynote speakers Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray connect with their audiences on a deep, emotional level. It’s not surprising to learn that many parts of their story bring the audience to tears. Justin talks of his deepest, darkest moments of despair and how he almost gave up completely. Even though his physical strength continues to wane, his internal spirit is getting stronger. Justin’s optimistic perspective is truly uplifting and both Justin and Patrick’s amazing friendship and love is unstoppable.
Audience Takeaway: It’s possible for anyone to achieve through the power of caring relationships and community. In spite of the challenges in our lives, any of us can achieve once unimaginable goals and make our own dreams come true.