My name is Dan Sampson. This month I graduated from college with a BS in Material Science Engineering from Penn State University and a BS in Physics from Bloomsburg University. Starting work the Monday after graduation, I've learned there is still a lot to learn.
I don't particularly like talking about my personal experiences but I hope my story helps at least one person. In 2008 when I was 14 years old, I fell off my bicycle while on vacation. I broke my neck and became a quadriplegic. I was permanently paralyzed from the chest down. I lost use of my hands and triceps. I spent months in the hospital, almost losing my life a few times along the way.
I kept up my education while still hospitalized. Thanks to an excellent tutor, I returned to school ahead of my class. I went to school in the morning, and worked out at a gym designed for the spinal cord injured. These sessions lasted about 4 hours each 4 days a week. I still train with the same PT and the same Exercise Physiologist. They are great at what they do and I am grateful to them. After working out, I ate a quick dinner and started homework. Not because I was so diligent, but because I wanted to get work out of the way. My parents supported my efforts and expected me to try my best. I started to drive a specially modified van when I was 17 and gained my first taste of freedom and independence. After attending college while living at home, I transferred to Penn State. I needed assistance, but finally was able to start living on my own.
Wrestling as a kid in elementary school, I learned some valuable lessions. The first is that hard work will be uncomfortable. If you are not uncomfortable, you probably aren't working hard enough. Secondly, you make your own good luck through effort. Good things do not normally fall into your lap. Most importantly, you must never give up. Always move forward with integrity. Never consider quitting. I have been blessed with a good family, but no matter how blessed you are, if you quit trying you have misused those blessings.
I hope this letter encourages boys and girls to participate in wrestling with all of their best effort. No matter how great of an athlete you turn out to be, you will never regret trying your best. I hope parents and coaches are encouraged to do their best as well. Kids are influenced by you more than you possibly can imagine.
Thank you for your time and thank you for trying to make the sport of wrestling available for all kids.
Having heard many amazing stories about Tyrone, from those that were close to him, it is clear to me that he was a man who exemplified the highest degree of bravery, loyalty, and grit. Wrestling taught me that to be the best, you must emulate the best. Tyrone was clearly a man of the highest caliber, who should be emulated in every aspect of life. For that reason, receiving the Inaugural Tyrone S. Woods Memorial Trophy was one of the biggest honors I have ever received. I am extremely humbled and grateful for the opportunity to be the first name on that trophy and the experiences it has led to. I am constantly amazed by the number of people that I have met that ask me about winning the award, and about Tyrone. Meeting Tyrone's family and friends, and being able to share in their stories has been one of the biggest blessing from the whole experience. Though I never personally met Tyrone Woods, I believe I know him. To me, the Tyrone S. Woods Memorial Trophy represents the value of living your life by the highest moral standard, and exhibiting true courage, grit and determination in the face of challenges in all aspects of life. This is the way Tyrone lived, this is the way Tyrone gave his life for our country, and this is the way we should all remember Tyrone Woods.
I would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the Tyrone S. Woods Foundation for the experience they have given me, and to Cheryl in particular for sharing her amazing stories and memories of Tyrone with me. I have the picture of Tyrone given to me by Cheryl and Kirk sitting on my desk at college as a daily reminder to exhibit the same kind of courage and passion for life that Tyrone exhibited. My experience with the Foundation has inspired me to push myself passed where I am comfortable and to attack life with a passion and determination that I believe would make Tyrone proud, for that I am truly grateful. I am excited for next recipient of the Tyrone Woods Foundation to be announced and join this very special and distinguished brotherhood. It will bind all of us together forever with Tyrone and the moral code that he exemplified that we must continue to promote as the next generation.
Recipient of the Tyrone S Woods 2016 Memorial Trophy
My introduction to testing the limits of my mental toughness, tenacity, and team focus began as a wrestler. The challenges I encountered on the mat helped create the personal attributes that helped me become successful as a US Navy SEAL. Those valuable lessons I learned as a wrestler have served me well in my military training and also down range with my brothers-in-arms. Along with the sweat, pain, and successes, probably the most important character builder was the failures that I left on the mat and which contributed to making me the man I am today.
Among the impactful wrestling lessons learned through my coaches and competition that I still carry with me today is to take personal responsibility. Your individual success or failure is up to you. Win or lose on the mat, you are responsible. Your mental toughness and iron will are life-altering keys to success as a wrestler and in life. In training and in the fight, be willing to push yourself further and harder than your opponent. As a character builder, the way you handle failure is extremely important, even more important than how you handle success. Whether you win or lose, treat your opponent with respect, look him in the eye, and shake his hand. It is not just about you. The team's success depends on cohesion and selfless effort.
Thank you to the many coaches that help carry the sport of wrestling forward. The impact you have made on me and continue to make on the lives of thousands of young people like me is immeasurable and enduring.
US Navy Seal
January 8, 2017
Jaime Miranda spent a portion of his childhood homeless, sleeping in cars as his mother stayed up all night to watch over him and his siblings. Once a troubled kid, Miranda has gotten his life on track and now wants to help troubled youth.
You can read the rest of Jaime's amazing story at: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/sports/2017/01/26/homeless-teen-needed-help-then-he-came-iowa-and-began-wrestle/96959528.
Wrestling can change lives, improve lives,and perhaps even save lives. And that is why TSWWF is so dedicated to youth wrestling. Many times in Tyrone's life when faced with a huge challenge, he pulled strength and determination from those hundreds of hours that he spent on the mat. His former friends from middle school and high school have shared anecdotes about how important wrestling was to him, even to the point of his encouraging them to join the sport. And they have never forgotten the influence and badgering from him that gave them the push they needed to become part of a wrestling team. No regrets.