The Making of a Legend
The While I’m Alive wall at the Kickoff for Chick-fil-A Leader Academy immediately caught Atlantic Coast High School senior Dillon Ford’s eye. The wall is an art installation that invites students to publicly share their aspirations. Dillon chose his words not because he wants to be famous, but because he strives to be the best he can be at whatever he chooses to do. For him, it’s about leading a life with meaning and purpose.
And life isn’t always easy for Dillon. He is paralyzed from the waist down, a complication of the polio vaccine when he was just a baby. Yet, it has only made him stronger. Even after a 14-month stint in and out of the hospital for an out of control infection when he was in middle school. Each knock down is a reminder of what he has to give.
“I feel grateful about this life,” said Dillon.
It shows. His ambition is to be a role model to others by living life to its fullest — to prove that challenges don’t have to become limitations. He is a mentor for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, where he coaches and encourages young people who have become paralyzed. He formed his school’s first-ever adaptive track team, making it possible for him and others with physical disabilities to compete with the team. He also joined an adult adaptive rugby league, which he believes helped him fill a void in social interaction claimed by the year he spent in the hospital.
“What’s important to me is making something of myself and helping people along the way,” said Dillon. How that plays out long term is something he’ll explore to find out. He sees Chick-fil-A Leader Academy as a way to develop the leadership skills that will help him achieve his goals.
“I have this desire to do something big in the world,” added Dillon. “Being at the Kickoff was so exciting. When I left, I just knew. I’m going to learn and do so many things that will help me make a difference.”