The Joy of Sight

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

“Mr. Heagy, you’re glaucoma has worsened. The pressure in your left eye is over 40 and we don’t like to see it over 10. You need to see a surgeon.”

As most of you know, 35 years ago my head struck a sand bar that resulted in a spinal cord injury. A few years later I also developed glaucoma. Glaucoma can be explained as a drainage problem in my eye. Blockage creates pressure that tears the optic nerve from the back of the eye. Being paralyzed with no use of my hands, my eyesight has taken on a significant duty. I love gazing upon all God’s creations, from nature to people, and my eyesight is the key to my artwork. It’s something that I don’t take for granted and am truly grateful to have. Although I’m sure I could find the strength to endure the loss, it would affect my life greatly.

As the laser beam shot through my retina and into the back of my eye, I could feel the pops as she triggered the laser cuts, 80 of them in total. It’s hard to hold your head still for a prolonged period of time, particularly when a laser is pointed directly at your eye. The laser did lower my pressure, but not significantly. I am now at a pressure of about 25, still too high to be considered a success. I am scheduled to repeat the laser process in three weeks and ask for your prayers. I would like to avoid optical surgery which entails cutting into my eye and putting new “drain lines” in. That is a serious surgery with a lot of risks involved. To be honest with you, it is a bit scary for me.

What I’ve done to overcome the nerves is to wake up each day and thank God for the wonders of the working eye. I look at my daughters differently; appreciating the details of their beautiful faces. Spring flowers appear more bright and colorful. I appreciate seeing the wonderful people in my life: friends, family, and caregivers.

I realize I have taken my eyesight for granted in the past, but have vowed to remain thankful for what I’ve been afforded. Please remember me every time you see something naturally beautiful. When something makes you say, “Wow!” say a little prayer for me. I have many more pictures to paint, places to go, sunsets to see. I can see your smile as you think of me. Likewise, please let me know how I can pray for you.

A thought for the day: let’s not forget to be grateful for everything in life. It’s too easy to see the negative. Let’s take our eyes and look for something positive.

To your inspiration,

Ron

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Giving sight to my shark.

My 35th Anniversary

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

It’s hard to believe that 35 years ago God intervened in my life. As I floated lifeless in the surf, my brother pulled me to the surface and saved my life. I had been spared and ultimately had been given the opportunity to share my story with you today. I had been told, as a result of my high level of injury that my life expectancy was between 10 and 17 years. By the grace of God, the doctors were wrong and I have survived their life expectancy two-fold! My friend, Chris, asked me today if I remember that dramatic moment my life changed forever. I responded with, “It seems like yesterday, but another life ago.”

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I have been through a great deal, have endured serious challenges, accomplished amazing things, experienced highs and lows. Do I have any regrets? The only one that comes to mind is I wish I had loved others more. I would like to take this time to thank you, my friend, for being in my life, praying and supporting all those things I do. I hope you have enjoyed the passion I have for my art. I look forward to living another 15 years in my chair–I have a lot of work to do! Be strong, have faith, and fight the good fight.

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To your inspiration,

Ron

We’re Created to Create

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

I was suffering from a lack of confidence. You know, the situation when you commit to something and later ask “What was I thinking?”

A few years ago I took the girls to a concert at LaSells Stewart Center on the Oregon State Campus. It was held in their large amphitheater where we sat in the front row next to some very accommodating people. I was taken by the acoustics as the instruments’ tones blended with the voices creating an inspiring listening experience. Wow, what a great place this would be to present, I thought. Little did I know that my daydream of performing on that stage would come true.

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I slowly nudged my chin-controlled chair onto the large, magnificent stage with a few hundred teens waiting in eager anticipation. I had been granted the keynote address for the Teen Summit and boy, did I take advantage of the incredible setting. The sound effects that I could make were great; it was truly enjoyable.

As I shared, the kids laughed and cried. For an emotionless guy, it was a moving experience, to say the least. I imparted to them my thoughts on positive outlooks: your attitude determines your direction. Keep the faith and stay focused in spite of the negative that bombards us daily. We can change things to ignite the positive.

So what did I fear, you ask? It was what followed the speech: a workshop. Ron Heagy was scheduled to teach 25 teens how to paint a picture in one hour. This was way out of my comfort zone. Even though I had agreed to the workshop, I felt like maybe it wasn’t such a good idea, after all.

However, thanks to my team, Ashley and Ann, I was able to overcome my doubts and ultimately found the experience to be exhilarating, particularly after seeing the students’ finished product. Through art, there are things that can be revealed about a person that you would have not been able to see with your eyes. I saw an inner beauty expressed through their creations. It all just happened to reinforce my speech. Many of them had never painted before, but I did not hear any of them say, “I can’t paint.” Maybe because their instructor was using only his teeth?

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We now have 25 new artists in this world all because I overcame my fear. Why don’t you and I take on something new today? Life can get mundane and boring if we don’t put ourselves out there and try something new. Let’s get moving, we were created to create!

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To your inspiration,

Ron

How Much is that Kitty in the Window?

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

How much is that kitty in the window? The one with mouth-painted fur.

I must admit that I am an animal lover. Growing up, my mom nearly had a zoo at times: llamas, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, roosters, ducks, turkeys, you name it. My favorite animal has always been a dog. I’ve owned a number of pets, but my most cherished one was a dog named Prissy. When I was a squeaky-voiced 13 year old, she was my best friend. I had rescued her from a friend’s house. I rode home with Prissy in a paper bag swinging from my handlebars. Just me and my new pet. Of course I hadn’t bothered to ask permission; it was one of those “don’t ask, apologize later” situation.

Prissy and I bonded the very first day. She followed me everywhere. We had adventures on the river, bicycle trips through the country, hikes in the forest. We were always together and whenever I wasn’t in sight she was a nervous wreck.

There came a day when I had been feeling down and was anxious to see her. As I jumped off the bus, I knew my dog would be there to pick up my spirits, but she was nowhere to be found. My heart dropped into my stomach. I frantically searched everywhere for her and for the next two days I felt my world had collapsed. I couldn’t eat or sleep—my best friend was gone. On the third day I found her lying in the grass, soaking wet and too weak to move. Something was very wrong. I scooped her up and screamed at the top of my lungs for help. When my mother came outside she could see the desperation on my face and drove me to the veterinarian hospital. Prissy had been poisoned by raw salmon a neighbor used to fertilize their garden.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I stared into Prissy’s eyes. “Don’t die. You can’t die. You’ll be okay.” As she looked back into my eyes, it was as if she was thanking me for all the memories. I squeezed her against me and told her for the last time that I loved her. Her breathing became rapid and I felt her body go limp. I began to sob uncontrollably; I had never felt such pain. I truly felt as though I was going to die.

I removed the collar that I had made for her from around her neck. For the next few days I carried it around in mourning. Prissy had taught me so much in her short time on this earth. Through her I learned responsibility, selflessness, love, and consideration for another life. I came to understand that life is much more fun if we share it with another living being.

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I have cared for many animals since her, but she will always be my favorite. That being said, why am I painting a cat?

The answer is that I am not the only one who loves animals. My little girl, much like her grandmother and father, has a tender heart with much love to give. She also has a favorite animal and you guessed it—it’s a cat. Her name is Dash. I see myself with Prissy every time I see Gracie with Dash. However, all of the love I have for pets cannot be compared to the love I have for my two girls. It is a bond greater than any.

A thought for the day: there’s more than just you to love out there. So what is your excuse?

To your inspiration,

Ron


If you cannot see the video, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy0voWz1-FA

Sticks and Stones

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

“My son took a gun and put it to his head and pulled the trigger…” I felt my heart nearly jump out of my chest when I heard those words. I could see the raw emotion on her face as she told me her story.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone shared a story that left you speechless, your eyes welling up?

We are truly living in a society where shocking and horrific things have little impact on our emotional wellbeing. We are exposed to violence on a regular basis, whether through movies and television or the news. The media seems to be bent on filling our heads with negativity whenever possible, desensitizing us to the human struggle. However, when you’re faced with a real human it’s difficult to remain numb.

I recently had the opportunity to present to a group of nearly 1100 middle schoolers. The gymnasium was packed to my left, to my right, and with even more kids the floor in front of me. It was loud and busy, but as I rolled to the microphone, the crowd became deafeningly silent. I shared my challenges, my perspective, and my attitude which helped me overcome the odds. I told them how belief in God, myself, and others allowed me to change how I saw the world. I like to call it the ABC’s in Overcoming Limitations. The students laughed, cried and celebrated the victory as I dramatically narrated my life. Hundreds of students passed by my table following the speech, many of them stopping to thank me and share their own struggles.

As I was finishing up a mother approached me. “I wanted to let you know, Mr. Heagy, that your speech empowered me.” I could sense something was on her mind. “My son recently put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He spent months in intensive care and rehabilitation. Even though he has some challenges he now loves life and speaks to kids about bullying and depression. I wish he would have asked for help, at the same time, it changed my son’s life and now he is changing others.” It’s funny how God can turn things around.

I must admit five years ago I faced the demons of depression. Like this young man, I felt helpless and hopeless, particularly because I’m supposed to be the “positive attitude dude.” If you’re struggling with depression or know someone who is, encourage conversation and get help. It’s like traveling into a deep cave; the further you go in the harder it is to find your way out.

As I wrote this, unbeknownst to me, my 10 year old daughter had her first bullying experience. After typing this blog I left to pick her up from school. When I arrived, her sensitive little heart opened up and she tearfully told me that she had been bullied by an older girl. I let her talk and shared in her pain. I asked her what she thought we should do and surprisingly she had the answer. It was not the time for me to be a tough dad, thank God I wasn’t. Her mother and I dealt with the issue right away so that Gracie felt 100% loved, supported, and cherished. Isn’t that what we all need?

You can’t do anything about the past, but we can actively take responsibility for the future.

If you cannot see the video, please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m56opBjGfRU

To your inspiration,

Ron

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Remember to love!

Memory of Roses, Mom

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

As far back as I can remember there has not been a place I’ve lived where there were not roses in the garden. Let’s just say, it’s my favorite flower. This fond affection towards this particular flower stemmed from the experiences that I had with my mother. She, too, loved the wonders of its soft, delicate petals balanced against its thorny stems.

I recall, as a child, watching her create lovely bouquets to adorn our dining table. As with any good relationship she took time and care to nurture growth. She carefully pruned, deadheaded, fertilized, and watered her roses, paying careful attention to its needs. She would say, “Roses are like friends. You get out as much as you put in.”

Indeed, it takes time; you don’t just give up on them. Struggles in life are like the seasons to a rose. There is a time when its beauty is brilliant and heavy with perfume, but when the seasons turn they are left to wilt and withdraw. Unfortunately, I have allowed a lot of my relationships to wither and die. I have neglected to nourish them and instead have given little attention and care. Despite this, I desire a vibrant, meaningful experience with another person.

With each stroke of my brush against the canvas, I visualized the perfect rose and once again I was reminded of the wisdom my mother had imparted to me. While my neck became sore from hours of careful attention, a tremendous burst of color played across the canvas creating the radiance of a rose.

It took me nearly 50 hours to paint the roses that I’ve enclosed in this blog. Not a day went by that I didn’t think of my mother and how she would have enjoyed my painting. I miss her probably more than anything else, but then again, I miss a lot of things: relationships, friends, people that I’ve neglected or hurt. I ask myself: is there a friendship I need to attend to? Is there a phone call I should make—a connection long overdue? I must remember that like a rose, friendships or love must be physically nurtured; a connection face-to-face, heart-to-heart.

I ask you to remember, as well, that love involves care, attentiveness, compassion, consideration, forgiveness, time, energy, laughter and tears. Lay your technology aside and tend to your roses. They are waiting for you.

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To your inspiration,

Ron

Maui Miracle

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

Brilliant colors burst across the sky as I sat confined to my chair yet mentally free. The Maui sunset; what a spectacular sight to behold! With immense gratitude I thanked God for my eyesight. It was like a rush of creative energy, faith, belief, aloha. It is difficult to restrain the feeling of love you experience in Hawaii.

The older I get, the more I realize how important people are. Friendships are beyond value. I have not only experienced many blessings from time with my friends, but I have also been a lot of places as a result of those friendships. Maui is a prime example.

As most of you know, I had a dream, a vision if you will, of a camp that was fully wheelchair-accessible. In this dream, I saw children of all colors and creeds, disabled and not, hanging out together in the majestic outdoors. There was a wheelchair-accessible tree house that even I was able to enjoy. Children, teens and their families were smiling. They felt connected to one another through nature. Each individual special; disabilities did not prevent anyone from having a good time. Barriers came crashing down and everyone was included. It was like a little piece of heaven, but like any good dream you eventually wake up to face reality. However, with every idea there are creative juices and mine were lit on fire by the desire: “I must see this type of facility being built.”

With years of passion, planning, and the necessary people, kids from four different states streamed into the first fully wheelchair-accessible camp in the state of Oregon. I felt that I had died and gone to heaven. As I watched kids roll into the tree house, fishing from their chairs in a pond full of trout, slowly drifting into the sky in a hot air balloon or smiled as they floated down the pristine waters of the Santiam River, I realized that my dream had come true.

A few weeks later I was sharing this experience to a group of business leaders in Los Angeles. Afterwards, I rolled into a restaurant to grab a bite to eat when I heard a voice speaking my name. I turned to see a lovely Filipino woman who insisted that I have lunch with her. She shared my enthusiasm for life. Her attitude was amazing and her story was riveting. “I grew up in Hawaii where my dad worked in the sugar cane fields. My parents believed in me and encouraged me through the challenges of becoming a professional. I am now a middle school principal.” She went on. “I think your next camp should be in Hawaii.” “You’ve got to be kidding!” I thought to myself. Yet, in a few months I would be sitting in front of over 500 of her students at Iao Middle School in Wailuku, Maui.

During my stay I had the opportunity to visit many incredible places and take in breathtaking sights such as 30 foot waves pounding the north shore and whales plunging into the ocean. There were people in love walking along the sandy beaches, majestic volcanic mountains that penetrated the clouds. This would be an awesome place for anyone to be, but I thought, could you imagine a wheelchair-accessible ocean? To have the ability to float in the soothing salt water and feel the gentle waves lap against you? My dream was not yet complete. I now knew it was necessary to explore the possibilities of a new retreat. I prayed, “God, make this a reality?”

Then, it happened. I met Peter Martin. That story I’ll save for a later blog, but I want to thank Peter now for continuing to believe in giving us an opportunity.

Over the last 10 years we have been working on obtaining the necessary permits in order to proceed with the development of the camp. Last month I spent a week in the most amazing house located right on the ocean with views of two islands and a rear canyon shot of the volcano. Although it was still under construction, Peter wanted me to be the first guest to experience the house. Of course, I graciously complied and am truly grateful for his generosity. I was blown away by the beauty of every minute and am fully inspired to ensure that as many people as possible, particularly children with physical limitations, have a taste of that paradise. To have a place to overcome pain, losses, struggles, and go beyond life’s limitations. A place to dream big. It’s time to build Camp Never Give Up Maui and make the ocean wheelchair-accessible.

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Stay tuned for the Maui Miracle and of course, if this is something that interests you, please let us know. I wish you many inspiring sunsets as you begin your new year!

To your inspiration,

Ron

In Time for the Holidays

Hello, Friends,

If you are looking for a unique Christmas gift that is sure to inspire, we have one for you! For the first time ever, Ron is offering original, one-of-a-kind artwork “mouth-painted” on Christmas ornaments. For $60.00 plus S&H you can purchase an ornament with a bird of your choice painted by Ron himself. Be one of the first to own a Ron Heagy original!

To purchase, please contact heagyoffice@gmail.com with your name, address, and what bird you would like to see painted on the ornament. This is on a first come, first served basis. Thank you for understanding; Ron can only handle so many.

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Dream Come True

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

The light came on at 5:00am which interrupted an intense dream. I was holding a small child in my arms who was paralyzed. In one hand I held her head softly against my chest and I could feel a great love. In the midst of my dream I was frantically searching for a baby wipe to clean the mess her frail body had made. I recall the smell seemed completely insignificant to me because she needed my help and I was there. I was there, all right, awakened by the smell of my own mess.

My caregiver gently began to clean me up, washing my armpits, hands and feet. She turned me from side to side to clean my back. She then helped me into my jeans, sliding in one leg at a time. Next came the range of motion to all four limbs; stretching my muscles, tendons, and joints. She sat me into an upright position with my legs over the bed and on the count of three transferred my body to the wheelchair. After a few adjustments, leg bag in place, she brushed my teeth, shaved my face, washed my hair, and put on my shirt and sports coat. She strapped me into my chair and I was ready to face the public. “Oh, can you help me with some coffee and maybe a plate of vegetables for energy will do.”

I texted my driver to make sure that he was on his way. Once he arrived he fastened my wheelchair to the floor of the van and pulled the safety belt across me. Thanks to Dan, I was on my way.

I was invited once again to speak to a group of over 70 Oregon State University students. As I rolled my chair in front of them, it amazed me how quickly they warmed up to me. I was more than likely their first experience with a quadriplegic. Over the next 45 minutes I challenged them to take a PMA (Positive Mental Atittude) test. I closed by reminding them as educators they would face children with disabilities on a regular basis. I pleaded with them to love openly and look for the opportunities beyond limitations. It was then I realized my dream of compassion from the night before came true. This eager group of students understood the message and I am confident they will face the next child with compassion. With a belief that nothing is impossible with a helping hand from others, their lives will be enriched. Now go take on your day and may your dream come true.

To your inspiration,

Ron

P.S. I almost didn’t have a driver, thank God for Dan, who not only got me there, but got me a cup of coffee.

Jumped by a Goose

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

I thought I’d try to be a cool guy and go four-wheeling in my two-wheel drive wheelchair one day. The trail of dirt was beckoning me. I was all alone and put my chin control “to the metal.” Amazingly, I was kicking up dirt and making real head-way when out of nowhere appeared this Canadian “honker.” I came to an abrupt halt to let her pass. To my surprise, this goose had a bad attitude and nipped me in the leg with her beak. “I didn’t feel that, so there,” I said. With a hiss that would raise the hair on your neck, she meant business. Just then I noticed a nest in the long grass beside me, filled with 11 eggs. No wonder why she was so upset. I’d have a bad attitude, too, if I had to lay that many eggs. “I’ll leave you alone,” I thought to myself as I nudged my wheelchair in reverse. However, my wheels only spun and I was stuck in the mud with a hormonal goose.

The next thing I know, she’s flapping her wings and jumping up towards me. Thinking that she would attack my face, I did the manly thing and closed my eyes and screamed like a little girl. Hearing the noise must’ve done something, I thought, because when I opened my eyes she was gone. “Thank you, God,” I said. But it wasn’t God, rather God spelled backwards. My dog had come to my rescue.

Claws had always wanted to get that goose and today opportunity knocked at his doggy door. He had gotten her by the neck while I was screaming. I felt my strength return. “That’s what you get for messing with me and my dog!” I did feel sad for the goose, though, and commanded Claws to cut her loose. She had only been protecting her eggs, it wasn’t personal.

He let her go and put his nose by my hand. “How long have you been my dog? All your life?” I asked him. “You know I can’t pet your fur. You’re only making me feel bad.” The funny thing is, my dog believed in me; that someday I would be able to pet him. Determined to not let the situation get the best of me, I yelled, “Look at me!” Claws looked me right in the eye. “You are the dog of dogs. You are my dog, and I love you.” In spite of not knowing English, Claws began to wag his tail in sheer excitement. He, despite my limitations, could understand the positive affirmation I offered him. He was excited and wagged his tail because I was speaking kindly to him.

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Today I’d like you to imagine what the world would be if we do that for one another. Instead of saying hurtful, degrading things, what about words of encouragement? We all face the hissing gooses in life, so I challenge you to go and make somebody’s day. Make their “tails wag.” Positive affirmation can change the world.

To your inspiration,

Ron

It’s All About Attitude

Attitude is your choice.

If you have trouble viewing the video please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw9ZNBL1wcU&feature=youtu.be

To your inspiration,

Ron

Pick a Friend’s Nose?

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

What do you do when you’re in the middle of a big presentation and your nose starts to run, snot slowly dripping down to your lip? Paralyzed from my neck down, my first thought was to lick it clean, but that wouldn’t make a good impression on my audience—a group of 3rd graders.

This past week I presented to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. It was another awesome opportunity to share with the brave men and women who work hard to keep our streets and communities safe. I can’t imagine the various attitudes they must face. I’d like to thank my buddy, Ed, who made it possible for me to speak for 2 hours.

Because I had an open day during my trip, I had sent out a message to you all asking anyone to contact me if there was a need for a speaker during that time. Not more than a week before the speech, Natalie, a long-time supporter of mine reached out to me. For 10 years, she had been hoping for a presentation at her small Christian school in Chino Hills, but was unable to arrange one due to lack of funds.

As destiny would have it, the speech for the Sheriff’s Department was only a 5 mile drive from Heights Christian School. Even more miraculous, the only day I had free was the day Natalie was responsible for chapel. It’s hard to deny how amazing it was that this lined up so perfectly. Los Angeles County is quite large, and I thank God that we were brought together.

Rolling into the packed chapel of parents and students, I instantly felt a connection. The audience laughed and cried as I described my experiences. “Somebody else brushed my teeth, combed my hair, shaved my face, bathed me, dressed me, and put me in my chair so I could be here. We need each other,” I said, “We’re a team.” Hoping that my words created pictures in their mind, I described the struggles I must overcome on a daily basis.

Suddenly I felt a trickle of liquid exit my nose, rapidly approaching my lip. “Oh, no, what do I do?” I thought. Should I lick it and gross out the kids or stop my speech? The moment was right; I stopped my speech. I blurted out, “Well, like I said, somebody helps me with everything and now I need somebody to wipe the boogers off my lip.” The kids gasped as if I was calling them forward. Natalie grabbed a tissue and quickly proceeded to the front. She wiped my nose, giving my nostrils a good squeeze, I broke the ice. “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose…unless you’re my friend. Anyone else want to be my friend?” I asked. The children broke out in laughter. I had given them permission to laugh, and given an appropriate visual example of how helpless we can all find ourselves.

Following the speech, the parents bought out my entire stock of books. I spent the next hour signing and talking with the kids. That night, Natalie brought me dozens of letters that the kids had written me. I read touching words, such as “Mr. Heagy, you changed my life,” “I was amazed at what you could do,” and “I can make a difference.” It was a powerful reminder. In the midst of my struggles, my life has value and an impact on the lives of children.

What were the chances of me being there on that particular day and needing my nose wiped for the first time during any of my speeches in the past? God worked out all things for the good and it reminded me to take one day at a time. So relax, do what you can and don’t sweat the small stuff. Our world can be a mess and it’s easy to get stuck on what we should do rather than what we are doing. Thanks for being my friend, and just think, you could be the next one to help me out. Tomorrow will be a better day. Now go pick your friend’s nose.

By the way, as Natalie told me, “The teachers were amazed that I wiped your nose because they all know that I’m a germophobe. Your snotty nose was meant to change me.”

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To your inspiration,

Ron