Below is the transcript for the opening ceremony speech “We are Butterflies” at the 2022 Disability Inclusion Celebration.
“My name is Winslow. I am the CEO of Adrenal Alternatives Foundation, which is a non profit organization dedicated to cortisol care and disability advocacy.
You are probably wondering why I am wearing a blue butterfly cape. No, I don’t think I’m lady Gaga and I didn’t get today mixed up with Halloween I promise!
The blue butterfly is the symbol that represents adrenal disease, which is a condition I have personally and also the disease that Adrenal Alternatives represents.
But the butterfly represents so much more than just my condition, butterflies share many similarities with all of us, but especially those who battle with disabilities.
Butterflies are a powerful symbol of rebirth and the start of a new beginning. Similarly, a diagnosis of a disability is the beginning of a different life as well.
Before it’s metamorphosis, the butterfly is a caterpillar.
When the caterpillar spins itself a cocoon, it likely has no idea what is happening. It goes through a time of isolation while its body is changing into something it doesn’t recognize. The caterpillar has no idea it is to become a butterfly.
The caterpillar and the disabled both undergo a process that changes their lives permanently, only to emerge to into a new, different life.
The butterflies time in its cocoon can be likened to many disabled experiences: the medical tests, the hospital trips, and the realization that your body is changing right in front of you and it is out of your control.
Interestingly enough, a butterfly’s diet consists of items which naturally contain sodium such as grass and milkweed. Butterflies have also been known to drink tears of other animals because of the sodium content.
Talk about getting strength from your enemies!
Our tears of pain, loss and grief have only strengthened us to become the powerful forces that we are to handle all the challenges we do every day, just to accomplish what some would deem as “simple tasks.”
That is the incredible irony about being labeled as “disabled.” Society has conditioned us to believe that disability is defined as someone in a wheelchair or someone who is in a medical facility that cannot fend for themselves. But the truth is, the disabled walk among us, undetected and undefeated. When you see a disabled person accomplish something, you don’t see the strength it took for them to get to that point.
You don’t see the hours of medical treatment they require, hooked to medical tubing just to sustain their lives. You don’t see the tears they fight back when someone questions the scars, the weight, the deformities that their own bodies fell victim to due to a disease process they cannot stop. You don’t see the effort they make to offer a gracious comeback to someone’s ignorant suggestion as to why they are not “better yet.” You don’t know that it takes everything inside them just to do a simple task such as grocery shop, drive a car or even get out of bed.
The disabled are not victims, they are victors over every obstacle they face, every single day.
The disabled, like the butterfly are a symbol of strength and beauty. And just like the butterfly cannot see the beauty of its own wings, it’s likely you cannot see the beauty that you offer to the world, despite all your challenges.
So today is about celebrating the strengths we’ve found in our weaknesses.
We are no longer caterpillars, we are butterflies.
I want to encourage you to see the beauty in yourself and accept who you are, flaws and all.
We may be disabled but we are NOT defeated.“
-Winslow E. Dixon , CEO Adrenal Alternatives Foundation
This speech was performed at the Disability Inclusion Celebration 2022, which is a community outreach event sponsored by Adrenal Alternatives Foundation to promote disability advocacy and adrenal awareness.
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