Jeff Butler—Embracing Uncommon Opportunities

Posted by on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018 in Blog

Reported by Phil Thoden

President Sara Pantin called the meeting to order. Corey Wilson led the pledges and Kevin Hull gave our
invocation of the day. Anselmo Garza led us in saying The Four Way Test. Josue Limon greeted each member and guest as they arrived and Russell Gallahan introduced the guests and visitors.

Natalie Moore Hester and Scott Rider came forward to receive their Blue Badge from President Sara. Congratulations Natalie and Scott!

Ann Graham reminded everyone about Camp Enterprise coming up this weekend, and she thanked those who have volunteered to help. Mary Reynolds announced that “shadows” are needed at the Paragon Prep Interact Club, and judges are also needed for the Pecan Springs Science Fair on February 1. Past President Harold Ingersoll said he is looking for 80 volunteers to help out with the annual Rise Against Hunger event coming up on February 24. Sign up sheets are available now.

President Sara made a few announcements:

  • Remember to check in via MeetUp and Facebook
  • The North Austin Breakfast Cluster meets Thursday, January 25th at Waterloo Icehouse on Burnet Road
  • President Elect Julie Benkoski is at St. David’s Rehab in Room 401. She’d love visitors and is usually
    finished with physical therapy in time for an afternoon visit.
  • Patti Riley-Brown is continuing to recover from pneumonia at Brookdale-Spicewood Springs. We hope she’ll be going home soon.

Ann Graham came back up to host the Thank Goodness Basket, and Mark Johnson kicked it off with $20 and expressed thanks for his daughter’s success working for Nordstrom in Seattle. Zach Davis said he is glad to be back and active with the RCA. Last, Don Grillo expressed thanks for his daughter being back in Austin.

Then, Bouzekri Touri, a visiting Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Casablanca International (Morocco) exchanged Club banners with President Sara.

Past President Harold introduced our speaker, Jeff Butler, who spoke on the topic of “Embracing Uncommon Opportunities.” Jeff’s life quickly changed when he was 13 years old and involved in a car accident that resulted in a broken neck. Paralyzed and in a wheelchair, this started him on a long journey to take back his life and independence.

While undergoing rehab efforts in the Midwest, Jeff was introduced to the sport of wheelchair rugby and immediately became obsessed with the game. He set out to become the best possible player and compete in the 2012 Paralympic games in London. Despite his best efforts to achieve that goal beginning in 2011, he did not earn a spot on that American team nor did he qualify in 2013 or 2014. Finally, in 2015 he made the team and eventually represented the United States at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, an experience he described as worthy of all the hard work he put into that quest.

Jeff’s story was an inspiring one, and he urged everyone to “embrace the uncommon opportunities that come into our lives” and not dwell on the negatives that occur. More information about his rugby team, the Austin Stampede, can be found at

President Sara then thanked our Club advertisers, Corey Wilson with Kidd Roofing and David Doran with Texas Systems Group. Thank you Corey and David! She also shared an apt and inspiring Pearl of Wisdom about perseverance from Winston Churchill before adjourning the meeting.

Next week’s program will feature the always popular Camp Enterprise winning team presentation.

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