If I Were Brave

Home > Articles > If I Were Brave
By Meredy Fullen

Awed by the revelation of one of lifes truths, I sought someone to tell that we might wonder at it together. Too late, I realized that the only one who would understand was God, and He already knew. - Frances Burns DeBorde, Poet

Amputee golfers are the focus of a new training/motivational video project.

David McNally has been researching and writing about the human spirit for over 30 years. His mission in life has been to provide people with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to perform at their best. As an international businessperson, best-selling author, and award-winning film producer, David's life work has taken him into companies such as Fidelity Investments, Pfizer, Merrill Lynch, 3M, and American Express, which have all embraced David's work as a key component of preparing their employees for an ever- changing, competitive, and complex future.

Motivators Need Motivation Too

David McNally interviews Pat Cooper, an upper-extremity amputee golfer, for his video, If I Were Brave.
David McNally interviews Pat Cooper, an upper-extremity amputee golfer, for his video, If I Were Brave.

After losing his wife in 2003, David found himself in a very similar situation to many of the individuals he has been coaching for years: he was wandering in search of inspiration, purpose, and hope. As with most life-changing events, moments of revelation often come to us at the most unexpected times and places.

David, who lives in Minnesota, was playing a round of golf with friends at the well-known Hazeltine National Golf Club, former host of the US Open and other national PGA tournaments, in Chaska. While on the course that day, he met Pat Cooper, a member of Hazeltine. Pat is a female upper-extremity amputee golfer. In speaking with her, David learned that the National Amputee Golf Association (NAGA) was planning to bring its annual national championship to Hazeltine. Inspired and intrigued by the notion of amputees reclaiming their lives and freedom through a game that manages to challenge and frustrate people who have not suffered limb loss, David found the inspiration he had been seeking.

A Life of Purpose

David McNally is quite familiar with the plight of amputees. Over 20 years ago, disappointed in the corporation that had enticed him by a misrepresentation of circumstances to relocate his family of four children and a pregnant wife, David slipped into a state of mind that was unfamiliar to him. Even though he was motivated by needs in his personal life to work each day, for the first time in his life he felt he had no purpose professionally. On a business trip, David came across a book about Terry Fox, a legend and hero in Canada. He bought the book and shoved it in his briefcase, only to remember it weeks later. After sitting down to read the book, David emerged from his basement office revived and charged for action because of Terry's story.

A native of Canada, Terry Fox was 18 years old and just out of high school in 1977 when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, which resulted in the amputation of his right leg above the knee.

In the hospital, after witnessing the suffering of other cancer patients, many of them children, Terry had a desire to contribute to finding a cure for the disease. Having been a natural athlete, he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research, his goal was to collect one dollar from every Canadian he met along his route. He called his journey the "Marathon of Hope."

He began his run in St. John's, Newfoundland, on April 12, 1980. He ran 26 miles a day through Canada's Atlantic Provinces for 18 months. After running 3,339 miles over 143 days, Terry was forced to stop running because cancer had appeared in his lungs. He died on June 28, 1981, at the age of 22. Terry's "Marathon of Hope" raised over $24 million, and to date more than $340 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry's name through the annual Terry Fox Run, held across Canada and around the world.

Motivated by Terry's story, David began planning a film project that would capture the young man's courageous and tenacious spirit. Three years later, he released the award-winning film The Power of Purpose. "While there was really nothing remarkable or outstanding about Terry Fox before his courageous stand against cancer, Canada regards him as one of its greatest heroes because of the legacy he left behind," said David. "We often find the most valuable lessons come from the effects of life's challenges on the lives of ordinary people like Terry."

A Time for Change Indeed

After meeting Pat Cooper on the links at Hazeltine, David was reminded once again of Terry Fox's spirit, and he felt that perhaps it was time to revisit and modernize his earlier film. He began planning and pulling together the funding and resources for the project he later titled If I Were Brave. David explained why he chose this title: "If we take the title If I Were Brave and turn that into a question rather than a statement, we would ask ourselves, What would I do if I had more courage?' or perhaps What are the fears that prevent me from trying?' Once we confront and conquer the fear, it really goes beyond who we are, and we become a servant to the process."

Filmed during the NAGA Championship in September 2003, If I Were Brave uses a collection of interviews with NAGA members to tell the story of the triumphant human spirit. Through the art of progressive storytelling, in a serene and peaceful setting, the amputees take the audience on a journey through their life experiences.

The stories reveal that there are certainly common threads among all people who have faced devastating situations. From the anguish that typically follows a loss, to the determination to move forward and be survivors; from the deep appreciation for those that encouraged them in their time of need, to the realization that they have become better people because of the adversity. Although the amputees who were interviewed suffered their own individual circumstances, each one told the same remarkable story.

A Lesson for All Ages

The 18th hole at Hazeltine.
The 18th hole at Hazeltine.

It is David McNally's belief that everyone can learn from stories such as those told in If I Were Brave. "It is not what happens to us, it is how we respond to what happens," he explained. "This is where the magnificence of these poignant stories begins. The best way for us to predict the future is to create it. These individuals inspire us to settle for a future that is nothing less than rich and satisfying. These stories force us to ask ourselves, What could I do if I were brave?'"

"What can the stories of these people teach us? Number one, that they are human," David continued. "They were not heroic when they faced losing a limb. They were devastated and they were frightened. Number two, they each faced a time of decision. They realized they were alive and that they must choose to go forward. Number three, they reached a point where they focused not on the disabilities, but rather the abilities. Number four, their spirits began to transcend and they realized they became better human beings because of their loss. Our lesson here is that if we were all to look back at the difficulties we have faced in our lives, whether in business or personal life, when we overcame obstacles, we became stronger people for it and we were better prepared to meet more of life's challenges."

As with David's first film, The Power of Purpose, his new rendition of If I Were Brave is being marketed as an inspirational tool to cross all platforms and audiences. The video is available for purchase by individuals for personal use. "We endeavored to price the video in such a way to reflect how it is to be used," said David. "Other than for individual sale, we are also planning to offer it packaged with a nonprofit education license and a corporate training license. For hospitals, healthcare organizations, or virtually any business wishing to use the video for team-building, leadership, and management training, it will ship with a guide designed to encourage discussion forums with many applications."

David McNally
David McNally

This video was made possible through a host of individual sponsors and many corporate sponsors, including College Park Industries from the O&P industry. It is offered for sale on David McNally's website at www.davidmcnally.com, as well as through Bob Wilson, executive director of NAGA, at www.nagagolf.org

Amputees featured in the video include NAGA Executive Director Bob Wilson, Jim Grovin, Ada Myers, Bill Harding, Jan Hensley, Al McNally, Geoff Nicholas, Brad & Camille Ziegler, Paul Hebert, George Willoughby, Dan Caputo, Wayne Blankenship, Anthony Carroll, Steve Cornell, Trevor Reich, Patrice Cooper, Frank Culpepper, Viet Nyugen, John Devin, Susan Hagel, Matt Hubbard, Bob Pike, and Andrew Zantiotis.