Adam Helbling – From Tragedy To Triumph


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What impact can a $100 investment make?

In July 2012, I attended The World Domination Summit.  Chris Guillebeau and his team offered up a challenge at the end of the Summit.  All 1,000 attendees were given $100 and instructed to invest in something that could impact the world in a meaningful way. I came home from Portland, Oregon that weekend with my thoughts running.  I had recently started The Catalyst Project and this fit the mission perfectly.  I was determined to find someone to invest in.  Someone that had the ability to impact the world. Little did I know the opportunity would present itself so soon.

Within a week after returning home, I met Adam Helbling.  I invested in my new friend.  And…two lives were changed forever.

Adam was in a near-fatal car accident in January 2011 where he flipped his car five times front over front. After dying briefly at the Adam Crashscene, the EMS workers were able to bring him back to life. He left the scene that day with a spinal cord injury.  He would never walk again.  That day was the first day of the rest of his life. Adam’s story goes much deeper than this.

I first heard Adam talk at a board meeting for a non-profit I work with, Creative Living.  We provide independent living for people with physcial disabilities, mainly people with spinal cord injuries just like Adam.  Adam spoke at the meeting about his accident just 18 months earlier and his story struck such an indelible chord with me.  He had an authenticity and vulnerability to him that was like nothing I’d ever seen or heard.

Before his accident, Adam had it all together.  Or, so it seemed.  Here he was, a national champion athlete at Ohio State and tremendous student.  Inside, however, his life was shattering moment by moment.  He struggled for years with Bipolar Disorder and Drug Abuse.  Making the wrong decision to get off his meds, he went into a psychotic state where he actually thought he was was the second coming of Jesus. The breaking point came that day in January 2011.

We started his blog shortly thereafter and he jumped into the process of writing his book, all on voice dictation software.  From there, we raised over $8,500 via Kickstarter to help with the editing and publishing process. During this time, we were fortunate enough to get him on the TEDx stage and he’s now given over 70 inspirational talks to many different audiences – from corporations to elementary school children.

And now, we are excited to announce that he’s accomplished one of his life goals as his book, “Well, I Guess I’m Not Jesus” was published on Amazon earlier this year.

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Adam had a choice to make.  He could go on living with a poverty mindset.  His mind was taken from him at one point and then his body.  No one would’ve blamed him for feeling sorry for himself.  He had the ultimate paradigm shift.  He made his choice.  He chose to focus on impacting others in a meaningful way.

This is just the beginning for Adam.  He has big dreams and aspirations to help people face down their challenges.  Adam sees a future with more facilities like Creative Living where other physically disabled individuals can live independently.  He also has a desire to bring broader awareness to Bipolar Disorder.  I have no doubt that he will accomplish what he sets his mind to.

Little did I know that investing that $100 in Adam was going to also be an investment in myself.  I’ve learned through thisAdam.Jon BOF 2013 experience that life is truly about investing in others.  It’s about planting seeds and watching them grow exponentially. And, now, it’s reaffirmed that The Catalyst Project is about investing in others.  There’s nothing better than helping someone get their story out to the world.  Adam’s story is the true Hero’s Journey.

My guess is that you may also have a story in there.  We all do.  Don’t wait – the time is now to live your story!

You can learn more about Adam’s story at his blog 

“If I were playing poker, I’d say that until I was 24 years old, I held a royal flush—in spades. But in one split second, I was left with a pair of twos. What I’ve discovered, however, is that if you play it right, a pair of twos can win.” – Adam Helbling 

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