A Salina man is living proof that with a little determination and motivation you can accomplish practically anything.
David Powell could have let his disabilities get the best of him. At one point in his life he became an addict and nearly did. But the man who was born with no hands, and without most of his arms and some of his legs, is alive and well. And he is motivating those who surround him
Powell tells KSAL News he grew up in Louisiana. After his parents divorced when he was very young, he spent time between his father in Dallas and his mother in New Orleans.
Because of his situation, Powell says he learned to become self sufficient and not to rely on technology. “Technology in New Orleans is horrible. That’s why I never really tried prosthetics or anything like that there,” he said.
Powell moved to Dallas to live with his father as his mother battled with her own addiction issues. It was there in Dallas, at a hospital, where he first began to gain some independence. He says he was just 9-years-old and they had him up and walking. He became self sufficient enough that he started taking classes at a regular school, without the use of a wheelchair.
By the time Powell started high school, he was experimenting with drugs and alcohol. By the time he graduated high school, his addiction problems had grown. “The biggest thing was heroin, I got into it and I was in a bad spot,” he said.
Powell sought help for his addictions. After getting help he ended up back home, back with his old friends, and back to his old habits.
Powell’s life was spiraling out of control. He was staying at a friend’s house in October of 2015, “coming down” he says, when he finally decided he needed to turn things around. He thought to himself “I’m almost 30 years old, have no family, and I’m not doing anything with my life. I always talked about being a speaker, but never did anything on it, never acted on it.”
Powell reached out to some friends. They gave him a ticket to Salina, where he checked into the Serenity House on November 4th, 2015. He hasn’t looked back since.
In May of 2016 a re-born and sober Powell started work at the Salina Walmart store. At first it was “just a job”. But he began to thrive, and fell in love with his work. He met a lot of people, greeting people as they came in the door.
In April of this year one of the connections Powell made offered him an opportunity that was too good to refuse. He left Walmart, and now works for a company called Independent Connection Inc., as an Independent Living Specialist. Powell now helps people with disabilities. He said “I work with all sorts of people with disabilities, whether it’s physical disabilities or intellectual disabilities, and connect them with resources to help them become independent. What we really strive on is teaching them how to go get what they want, and just be as open and happy as they can be.”
There is no better example of independence than Powell himself. “I can do my own laundry, get myself dressed, and I can shave myself. I can change my son’s diaper. I can get my prosthetics on and off,” he says. And that’s not all, he will soon be driving.
While his independence and his work are gratifying, Powell has even bigger aspirations. He wants to be a motivational speaker.
Powell’s dream is to travel the word, inspiring people. “I think that’s my calling, I love helping people. I don’t have stage fright. Maybe for the first couple of minutes or two after up there in front of a big crowd but it fades away. And I think my story can really help inspire,” he says. Powell would like to “motivate anybody to do what they want to do, not make excuses, and to put their ideas in action and just do it.”
Powell has had several speaking engagements. He has spoke with several youth and civic organizations, and churches. In October he will be the keynote speaker at Saline County’s in-service training day.
It’s a good start, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg he says. “I want to do keynotes for association conferences, I want to go to high schools, I want to go worldwide, not just Kansas or the United States, I want to go global,” he adds.
Powell says his message is simple. It’s about overcoming obstacles, and being the best you can be. He concludes “I don’t have hands and legs, and I’m doing this. So what’s your excuse? Come on, find a way to overcome it.”
David Powell Online: