New Hope Notes

Success In Life Is An Attitude
Mind Your Own Business

Ron Heagy
October 28, 2007 - W0743

How’s your attitude and how do you measure success in life?  Many people define their success by how much money they make or how much “stuff” they have.  And many allow their circumstances (how much stuff they do or do not have, whether they think things are going their way or not) to define their attitude in life.  Well this week we have a guest speaker, Ron Heagy, who is here to challenge us with the thought that Success in Life is an Attitude.


Ron Heagy was a young, athletic outdoorsman that led an active life until one day when he got into a surfing accident.  In the accident, his head was snapped backward to between his shoulder blade and he broke his neck.  Ever since then, he has been paralyzed from his neck down and spends most of his life in a wheelchair.


After my accident, I was in the hospital and my attitude was bad.  As I lay in the bed, unable to move, I was depressed and plotted on how I was going to kill myself.  I was serious about killing myself; after all, what was there to live for?  As I lay in the bed contemplating my death, my eight-year old roommate – who was in a coma – said, “I…love…you…Ron.”


That was the beginning of a new life for me.  I decided to go to college.  Everyone said I would never be able to do it.  I made it through college writing papers on the computer with a stick held between my teeth.  I continued on to get a Masters Degree from San Diego State University and graduated with a 3.7 GPA.  Not bad for a 2.0 GPA high school football player, huh?  Success in life is an attitude, not dictated by your circumstance.


I woke up this morning…breathing…it’s gonna be a good day!  Did you wake up this morning with a bad attitude?  Why?  You hadn’t done anything and nothing had happened to you but some of us think that way anyway.  I’m the master of my attitude.  My circumstance and behavior is NOT bigger than I am.


I speak at public schools about motivation and attitude.  Look at me; I’m a quadriplegic.  Someone brushes my teeth and shaves me.  I can’t move from the neck down.  I can feel anything below my chin.  But I’m living the life that God intended for me!  A poor attitude and depressed life?  No! What does the Bible say about the life God intends for us?  For it to be an abundant life.  Can you have an abundant life in a wheelchair?  Absolutely.  I’m here today and it’s a good day.  If I wake up tomorrow, it’s a bonus day!  I could be called home [to heaven] at anytime (or you too for that matter) so I live every day of my life as if it is my last.


Animals stare at me.  Really.  They attack me.  They talk about me.  I know; I saw the movie Madagascar.  They’re saying, “Hey, look at that guy. There’s something wrong with him.  He’s strapped to the chair and he can’t move.  Let’s attack him!”


People also stare at me.  They can’t help it.  But when I see them, they quickly turn away because they don’t want to me to see them staring at me.

“Why are you staring at me?”

“Because you’re handicapped!”

“So are you…emotionally, in relationships, in attitude.  I’m paralyzed from the neck down but what about you?  From the neck up?”


When I speak at public schools, I can’t mention Jesus Christ or God (because of the separation of church and state) but they can’t stop my light from shining through:  my life, my attitude.


When I was much younger, I had one of those bad attitude days.  My friend had picked up me in the van and taken me to the beach.  When we arrived at the beach, we parked in “my” stall – you know…the handicap stall.  Whenever you park in those stalls, people stare. They want to see what’s going to come out of the van.  The door slides open and the ramp is lowered.  I feel like traveling with a bowl of water and dry ice to create that eerie smoke effect as I’m exiting the van.  Ooooohhh.  Aaaahhh.


On this particular day, I cruised up and down the boardwalk and there was no wheelchair ramp to be found!  A $30,000 chin-operated wheelchair and no way to get on the beach!  What’s up with that?  I sat and sulked for a while then turned to my friend and said, “What kind of friend are you bringing a wheelchair guy to a beach that’s not wheelchair accessible!”  As I mentioned, I was having a bad attitude day…(so many of us are like that:  sitting around like a paralyzed body and not using any of the spiritual gifts God has given us.)


My friend gave me the biggest smile. 

“What are you smiling about?”

“I’m gonna carry you down there and set you up on a lawn chair wherever you want.”

“No way. Are you crazy?  What are you going to do?  Carry me like a fireman, over your shoulder with my head bobbing up and down against your back?  Or are you going to carry me in your arms like your girlfriend?”


He trotted off to the van and got a lawn chair. He set it up on the beach.  He came back and scooped one arm behind my back and the other under my legs and hoisted me up.  As he was weaving his way through the crowd, I kissed him on the cheek!  He said, “You do that again and I’ll drop you to the end of the universe!”  I thought it was funny but as he lay me down on the chair, I realized how risky of a move kissing him was because he could have laid me down however he wanted and there wasn’t a darn thing I could’ve done about it!


Luckily, my friend was kind and he lay me down and arranged my legs so they were slightly apart – like a guy, not a girl.  My friend was about to go down to the shore but he stopped and he was staring at me.

“What are you staring at?”

 “You. You look like a normal guy.”


In an instant, my bad attitude was gone…because my focus changed.  Similarly with our lives, we can turn our lives around in an instant.  The Bible says that if we confess our sins, God is just and willing to forgive us.


While I was sitting on the beach, a good looking girl walked by.  She smiled at me.  Oh no!  What was I going to do?  Well, that’s where I came up with the “quad[raplegic] nod.”  You know the one – slight tilt of your head and a quick lift of the chin – the one that says “What’s up?”  She was checking me out as she walked by.


After a brief stay on the beach, I noticed a pelican flying through the air and it was flying suspiciously low.  Now mind you, there were a million, bajillion people on the beach but what happened?  The pelican unloaded on me (remember what I said about animals not liking me?)  To make it worse, it didn’t just poop on my shorts or anything; it had to poop directly on my forehead!


Well, I couldn’t do anything about it.  I just sat there letting the sun bake it right onto my forehead.  I saw the same girl walk by a short time later.  Needless to say, she didn’t look at me quite the same.


When my friend finally came back about 15 minutes later, he died laughing.  “How’d you manage to do that Ron?”


It’s been 28 years that I’ve been waking up to a paralyzed body – not good.  But life IS good.  When I get to heaven, I’ll have a perfect body and a lot of making up to do.  When you get to heaven and see a streak of light pass by you, you’ll ask God what that is and God’ll tell you, “It’s Ron.  He’s running.  He keeps running.  He’s got a lot of catching up to do.”


My book is entitled Never Give Up. Pick up a copy if you want to hear more about my life.  My website is called roll on Ron ( because that’s what I’m doing…rolling on in life.  I even have this little red smiley face mascot with wheels to remind people to keep rolling on.  If you’re interested in getting one to give away or keep nearby for yourself for days when your attitude is not that great and you need a quick reminder of my story and encouragement to roll-on, visit my website


That’s the Ron Heagy story…I choose to live.  I didn’t take the coward’s way out and am living my life as a testament to God’s goodness, with an attitude that is glorifying to Him.


I met a young boy one day (like me, in a wheelchair) who had bright blue eyes.  When you looked at him, you knew there was plenty going on within him by the looks in his eyes.  I asked him, “What wrong with you Kevin?  What happened to you?”  He didn’t respond but he had a woman with him who spoke for him.  She said, “You’re paralyzed from the neck down, but Kevin is paralyzed from the nose down.  He can’t speak but he wants you to know that you’re his hero.  He loves to hear you speak.  You inspire him.  You’re his hero.”


Shortly before I had met Kevin, I was thinking about giving up speaking. Speaking at public schools is not a lucrative job.  I have a wife (who loves me and married me exactly the way I am) and children (I told my wife when we got married that we wouldn’t ever be able to have children because I don’t have any “swimmers” and you need “swimmers” to have kids.  She said it was okay because she already had two daughters.)  I was going to give us speaking so I could get a job that pays decent money so I can buy “stuff.”  I had been watching tv and it told me that you need stuff so I was going to get a job that pays more so I could buy stuff…so I could have a garage sale and then buy more stuff.


When I met Kevin, his Mom told me that I was his hero but he was my hero.  He is my hero.  Kevin’s mom told me that what Kevin wants is to smile.  Smile because Jesus loves you.  I created this little red happy face with wheels to remind (and inspire) people to do that. It’s my mascot and we started selling it on our website to help Kevin do what he wants to do:  smile.  With the proceeds, we were able to purchase Kevin a $23,000 computer that he can operate with his eyes.


There was a period of time when my wife was very sick.  I prayed to God to please not take her from me; wasn’t it enough that I was paralyzed?  A short time later, I received a bunch of flowers from my wife.  I asked her what they were for. She wouldn’t say initially but when I looked at the arrangement closely, I saw a little stick jutting out of the arrangement.  When I looked more closely, I realized it was a pregnancy test stick and it was positive.  I asked her if she was pregnant and she said yes but, “How could that be,” I asked her, “because I don’t have any swimmers?”


Well, you must’ve had at least one because I’m pregnant!”


We now have a two year old daughter, Gracie Lee…flesh of my flesh.  God is good.


I have spoken to over three million people over the years…In my weakness, He is strong.  Live your life for Jesus, regardless of your circumstances because Success in Life is an Attitude.





  1. What factors do you use to define success?  How has that affected your life?
  2. How often is your attitude bad versus good?  What affects your attitude and how can you get better control over it (if necessary)? 
  3. What kind of handicaps or disabilities do you have?  Do you let them paralyze you?  Explain.
  4. Are you living the abundant life God intended for you?  If so, please share.  If not, how can you start?
  5. Do you have a gracious friend, like Ron’s beachgoer one, who is an encourager and supporter?  Make a point of thanking them for their kindness.
  6. One of the best ways to keep a positive attitude is to practice being thankful for your blessing.  Make a list of the blessings God has given you and give thanks for all that He does and provides.