Tampa Tribune Article

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When I spoke at Academy At The Lakes last Monday, April 7, Megan Hussey of the Tampa Tribune was present. The article appeared in Saturday’s Tribune and can be found below.

I’d like to personally thank Megan for such an accurate and well-written article! I’ve been written about hundreds of times in newspapers, magazines, periodicals, etc.-but this is probably the most accurate article ever done on little old me! Thanks, Megan, and thanks again to Bob Sullivan and Academy At the Lakes for hosting this event!

Speaker Helps Students See ‘Happiness Is A Choice’
Tribune correspondent
Published: April 12, 2008
LAND O’ LAKES – At the age of 16, Marcus Engel was involved in the type of fender bender that every high-school student fears; one in which he accidentally struck an auto driven by his principal’s wife.
Taking the incident in stride, his principal advised him to “Change the things you can.”
This advice proved valuable two years later, when Engel was in another wreck, this one far more serious.
One late night on a St. Louis road, the actions of a drunken driver in another car cost Engel his eyesight; and caused massive injuries to his face and body that required a year of surgeries to repair.
Engel first had to accept the fact that he was blind.
“I thought, ‘I’m 18. I’m never going to see again. I’m never gonna lead my life again,'” he said. “What do you do?”
Reaching Teenagers
What Engel did in the years that followed was write two inspirational books and speak publicly about his experiences; his speaking engagements take the Orlando resident to 40 to 50 events yearly.
“And because of my passion for education, I like speaking to schools the most,” he said. “It’s a powerful thing to get teenagers to listen, and judging from the number of e-mails and MySpace signups I get after my speeches, they are engaged by the message.”
On Monday, Engel brought his message of hope, humor and inspiration to Academy at the Lakes, where he addressed students in grades eight through 12.
Engel was accompanied by his wife and book editor Marvelyne Adams, and Carson, his guide dog. He also brought a bag full of his books, “After This … An Inspirational Journey For All the Wrong Reasons” and “The Other End of the Stethoscope: 33 Insights for Excellent Patient Care.”
He handed out free copies to students who asked questions after the speech. He also handed out advice about overcoming terrible odds.
“You get used to things like this, because sooner or later it just becomes your life,” he said. “All I knew is that I had to give it time, that my life could someday be good again.”
Working To Stay Independent
Following his principal’s advice to change the things he could, he took extensive steps to ensure that life would be good again. After a challenging regimen of surgeries and physical therapy, he attended a residential education program for the blind.
“In order to graduate, I had to prepare, serve and clean up a meal for the 50 people on the school staff,” he said. “For the second challenge, a school secretary took me out in a car … and dropped me off, telling me I had to find my own way back. On my honor, I could only ask one question of a pedestrian to get back.”
“When she dropped me off, I soon realized I was 25 miles away from where I needed to be,” he said.
After successfully completing this program, Engel was able to return to college, and then took a summer job as a camp counselor.
He taught and performed all of the same activities – such as swimming, canoeing and archery – as the other counselors. He says his greatest achievement may have been mentoring an overweight child who was bullied by campers.
“His mother wrote a letter saying that the only positive experience the boy had at camp was working with Marcus, the blind counselor, because the boy said, ‘He couldn’t see how fat I am,'” Engel said. “I spent all summer trying to show other people the things that I could do, and he was most impressed by the things I couldn’t do.”
Engel has dedicated much of his life to inspiring others; through his books, his speeches and occasionally through advising lawmakers about the establishment of meaningful drunken driving laws.
Most of all he wants people to know that although his accident claimed his vision, it didn’t cloud his view of the world. “I’m pretty ecstatic about my life,” he said. “Happiness is a choice.”
On Monday, national inspirational speaker and author Marcus Engel addressed eighth to 12th grade students at Academy at the Lakes in Land O’ Lakes.
COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS: During his freshman year of college, Engel lost his eyesight and sustained massive injuries in an auto crash caused by a drunken driver. He now speaks to students and other audiences about overcoming insurmountable odds to find a fulfilling life.
A LITTLE HISTORY: In addition to his 40 to 50 speaking engagements a year, Engel has written two books.
GETTING INVOLVED: To learn more about Marcus Engel and his work, go to https://marcusengel.com/ or www.myspace.com/marcusengel.

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