The human spirit is stronger than anything that can threaten it,” says Kevin Reilly. “When we have a crisis, we find out how strong our spirit really is.”
That’s what you might expect to hear from a motivational speaker—which happens to be one of the career paths Reilly followed 30 years ago, after desmoid cancer took his left arm and shoulder, and four ribs. Cancer, in fact, ended his career as an NFL linebacker.
We tested Reilly’s thesis by interviewing nine Delawareans who’ve endured significant crises, including cancer, murder, rape, drug and alcohol abuse, and the loss of loved ones.
Like Patrice Gibbs, a reformed gambler and loan shark who has survived hard times in dangerous Wilmington neighborhoods. “A crisis is like a knock upside the head,” he says. “It wakes you up, and helps you see that there’s something else.”
It is certainly a wake-up call, one that leads us to wonder what matters most in a world at war, where people battle poverty, crime, disease and economic hardship. The Delawareans we interviewed survived adversity, which led them to examine their lives thoughtfully. They all relay the importance of two themes: a stronger attachment to family and friends, and an increased desire to serve others.
» For more from the December issue, click here.