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If I can inspire one, and they can inspire another, soon we'll inspire a thousand

Inspiration is a funny thing.  Sometimes a story hits you smack in the face, inspiring you when you did not even know how much you needed that lift!

Such is the story of Shaquem Griffin, a young man who had his left hand amputated as a child because of a rare disease that stunts the growth of the hand called amniotic band syndrome. Per the several interviews I watched, this young man never let the loss of his hand interfere with the activities he wanted to pursue. Shaquem became a true standout athlete in several sports, and played football at Central Florida University.  Last week, he was chosen in the NFL draft  by the Seattle Seahawks, and he will play on the same professional football team with his twin brother, Shaquill, who was drafted by Seattle last year. I was thrilled for him – and I don’t even know him!  Imagine the pride his parents are feeling!

This could be a Disney movie – but wait!  It gets better! This young man is a fantastic role model!

Because of Shaquem’s positive attitude and strong work ethic, he is now inspiring others with his same rare condition to chase their dreams.   Here is the link to a touching conversation to Shaquem from a young girl regarding her dream: 

Shaquem is not just inspiring kids with who are afflicted with amniotic band syndrome, he is inspiring many others with physical challenges. Kids are taking a look at him and telling themselves that if Shaquem can overcome his problem, they can, too.   Take a look at this link:

And last, I think Shaquem is inspiring all of us to do our best, even if we do not face the physical challenges he faces.  To see someone overcome adversity is inspiring, and I believe that his positive attitude and personal triumph make all of us work a little harder.

One more thing- the press has not done much with Shaquem’s own words, but here is his letter to the NFL GM’s,  which is straight from his heart.  It is a great read! 

I am thrilled that young people have a real hero to emulate in Shaquem Griffin.  Cheers to Shaquem Griffin and his upcoming success on the field and in Life.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

For more of Dede’s blogs and thoughts please visit or follow her @dederittman on Twitter.

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The author

Dede Rittman is a 37-year veteran English/ Theater teacher from Pittsburgh, PA, teaching 35 years in the North Allegheny School District, where she also was Varsity Head Boys’ Golf Coach for 33 years, directed the spring musical and talent shows, and contributed to many district initiatives. She was a PA Teacher of the Year semi-finalist in 2011, the year she had to retire when her husband, Scott, was dying from stage four colon cancer. Dede’s book STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER was published in September 2014 and the book has won 8 awards. Nationwide, colleges and universities are using her book, and Dede accepts speaking engagements around the country, with some focusing on education, and some on motivation. She is a guest blogger for educational magazines and was the Co-host of The Total Education Q and A Show, which was heard around the world on 120 stations in 80 countries on Dede gives presentations around the globe on both of her books through and . Dede writes a weekly blog for teacher inspiration at GRADY GETS GLASSES, Dede’s children’s book, just came out in hardcover. The book won Best New Children’s Book 2016 from The Authors’ Zone. Dede has also won two Album of Distinction Awards from Delta Kappa Gamma in 2015 and 2017; the prestigious I AM L.E.E. (Living Education Everyday) Award in 2016; and she was inducted into the North Allegheny Sports Hall of Fame in October of 2017. Dede works very hard on promoting her books and speaking engagements. She enjoys continuing teaching grades kindergarten to college through her books!

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