When Wilma Rudolph was four years old, she had a disease called polio which causes people to be crippled and unable to walk. To make matters worse, her family was poor and could not afford good medical care. She was the 20th child of 22 children. Her father was a railroad porter and her mother was a maid.
The doctors had said she would not be able to walk. The doctors said she needed to be given a massage so her Mother did every day by rubbing her legs. She taught the brothers and sisters how to do it. By the time she was 8, she could walk with a leg brace. After that, she used a high-topped shoe to support her foot.
Three years later, her mother came home to find her playing basketball with her Brother by herself bare-footed. She didn't even have to use the special shoe.
A track coach encouraged her to start running. She ran so well that during her senior year in high school, she qualified for the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. She won a bronze medal in the women's 400-meter relay.
In 1959, she qualified for the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome by setting a world record in the 200-meter race. At the Olympics that year she won two gold medals; one for the 100-meter race and one for the 200-meter race. Then she sprained her ankle, but she ignored the pain and helped her team to win another gold medal for the 400-meter relay!
She told "My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother"
She retired from running when she was 22 years old, but she went on to coach women's track teams and encourage young people.
Wilma thought God had a greater purpose for her than to win three gold medals. She started the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to help children learn about discipline and hard work.
Even though she is no longer alive, her influence still lives on in the lives of many young people who look up to her There are probably many more lessons that each of us can find in this story.