Who doesn’t like a good motivational speech? Especially in the morning. With a full belly of delicious hotel breakfast (ahhh Israel cheese how I love you). Half way through your ROI experience.

Pascale Bercovitch’s personal story and triumph was the perfect inspiration and reminder that we ROIers needed along with a strong coffee for the long day ahead.

Pascale, born and raised in France, lost her legs in a horrific train accident. Just 17 years old, she was on her way to a high school exam when she saw her train leaving the platform. She knew if she didn’t get on this train she wouldn’t make it to her test.

What she didn’t know was that running after it would be the last time she would ever use her legs. It would be the end of her childhood. And the beginning of a new chapter in her life that none of us could imagine. Pascale jumped at an open door on the train but didn’t quite make it in and let go, falling onto the tracks where the train’s wheels cut off her legs.

She laid there alone in the cold. In the snow. And somehow survived the forty-seven minutes of torture until someone came to her rescue. She went on to live her life without her legs but with the choice that she made while laying on those tracks—she decided to take life in to her own hands. Pascale moved to Israel and served in the army, became a journalist and has since traveled the world. She also represented Israel in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games and will once again represent Israel in the 2012 games in London.

I am honored to have heard Pascale speak today and will take her message with me in my life’s journey.

But there is something else I took away from her story. Pascale told us that while she waited for help, two men who found her ran back inside the train station where they told the woman that worked there about the gruesome situation. The woman said she knew that there was a young girl screaming for help, but that she felt it was best to leave her to die and put her out of her misery.

I don’t think the woman was evil. I just don’t think she made the right decision. And as Pascale told the story the ROI crowd all gasp with disappointment. I believe all of us were disappointed because we would have helped. That is the people we are or at least we hope to be. That is why we are at ROI. And that is why we have chosen this path in life.

Pascale I am sorry that you lost your legs. But I am so impressed at what you have managed to achieve without them. You showed us what strength is and how to achieve it, whoever you are.

I am sorry that this woman didn’t help you when you were alone and scared. And I thank you for sharing your story with us. For being a person that can take this tragic experience and not dwell in it, but instead persevere from it.

You have become a champion athlete and you have definitely already won in the game of life.

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