This is such an inspiring example of what you can do when you really put your mind to something, as well as how we can stand behind our friends and family and encourage each other to do the hard things. When ESPN interviewed Matt's dad, he teared up as he recounted how "the whole school was behind him." Think about it. When was the last time you went to a sporting event and cheered on your favorite team? Even if sports really aren't your thing, I'm sure you watched an Olympic event or two and cheered for a particular athlete or country. What do you think would happen if we encouraged each other in the same way in all aspects of life? How much could we achieve if we felt empowered by the roar of a crowd when we stepped up to make a presentation at work or tossed the last pack of cigarettes into the trash?
Obviously, this type of public cheering is not always appropriate or welcome, but there are other ways we can encourage each other. It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day struggles of life and not notice that someone needs a pat on the back, a "you can do it." We are all called to bear a particular burden in life, and while these burdens may not be as evident as young Matt's struggle with cerebral palsy, we still need encouragement from those around us. Start with those closest to you. Leave a little note for your spouse that says "you can do it!" the next time he or she has a rough day coming up at work. Cheer for your kids - I mean really cheer, not chat with the other parents or get distracted by your smartphone - at their next soccer or basketball game. Let your family know you're behind them. Once you've tried that, branch out to your friends and co-workers. Your encouragement will be appreciated and most likely reciprocated, but even if it isn't, the satisfaction from cheering someone on and seeing them succeed is rewarding enough. I promise, it's even better than seeing your favorite team win the big game!