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Volume 3, Issue 3 March 2012 BECOMING YOUR BEST

Becoming Your Best Newsletter

Greetings, Babe Ruth once said, Its hard to beat a person who never gives up. This quote is an appropriate way to describe the young man in our feature story this month. Although he has had to deal with many difficult challenges in his life, he never gives up. Jordan Bartholomew is a young man who has learned to take the cards he has been dealt and make the best of every situation while maintaining an attitude of gratitude. The following poem, written by Jordan, exemplifies what a unique person he is. The poem is entitled Mother Ocean. Everyone is looking for treasure

Stories Of Hope And Encouragement


Some find it, some never do You can look and see who is still looking They go by colorsthe ones still looking are blue But there isnt just blue, all colors of the spectrum fly Some change color when they see their treasure tell them goodbye See me it took a while to figure out what I was looking for I never realized I was just knocking on the wrong door But behind that door I found the rainbow beyond measure And at the end of it there you were, my love, my treasure The following story was written by Adam Norko as it was told to him by Jordan. It was published on Seaside Vacations blog and can be read in its original format by going to: We would like to thank Adam for his permission to use the story. _______________________________________________________________________________ BECOME A FAN ON FACEBOOK AT BECOMING YOUR BEST.

Mission: We are dedicated to presenting inspiring stories of hope and encouragement about individuals with disabilities. Thank you for your stories and your support! George M. Graham Jr.


My name is Jordan. I was born April 22, 1984 on Easter morning in Warren, Ohio. Twenty seven years later, Im living my dream on the Outer Banks. Heres my story of Outer Banks magic. I was born cross-eyed with double vision, no depth perception and asthma. Since then, I have been diagnosed with Epilepsy (seizure disorder), Crohns Disease, ADHD, Asthma, Arthritis, Autism, and possibly MS. In school, I wasnt a bad kid, just disruptive and could not pay attention to anything. I would only do something if I was told not to do it. I was gifted and in special education at the same time, so I had to learn everything on my own. Growing up, I loved sports (especially basketball), exploring nature, and most of all THE OCEAN! I played sports, but my health problems caused accidents, surgery, and sickness to ruin my future in those. The ocean became my focus. Every year I would record Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, and I would watch them over and over and over again every single day. My dream job was to be a marine biologist. I just always had a deep feeling of peace and home with the ocean. Numerous summers we would go to Carolina Beach in Wilmington, but even though I loved the ocean, there it is nothing compared to the Outer Banks to me. The first time I saw the ocean all I can remember is running into it as fast as I could. Even as a young child I loved to play in the big waves. Seeing and being in those waves was so glorious to me. Every time we left the beach and went back to Ohio, I would become depressed and life would be sucked out of me until we returned to the ocean. I just love water and especially waves. As Clay Marzo says, Waves are toys from God. I graduated from high school in 2003 and went on to college. I first attended Mount Vernon Nazarene University and played basketball. After one year, I transferred to Youngstown State University majoring in Early Childhood Education. I spent a lot of my school time in the hospital because of my health problems and weak immune system. Plus my health cant withstand the cold weather conditions in Ohio. I majored in Early Childhood Education because it was the only thing not boring to me. I am like a big kid, and I have a gift with children. I was still in college when I moved to the Outer Banks. I would work on the OBX in the summer, go back to school in the fall, and return in the summer until I graduated in December of 2009. Then I moved to the Outer Banks permanently. Before moving to the OBX, I was completely medicated for all my medical conditions, and the medications created deep depression because of the unbalanced chemicals in my brain. Depression got so bad I planned suicide for years. Finally I took that step and shot myself. The bullet missed my pulmonary artery by splitting in half and going around it, saving me from instant death.
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Although I shot myself, its not substantial considering I have almost died many times before and after that happened. Lets just say being shot hurts a lot, and it is very scary when youre laying there suffocating all I could do was ask God to spare me, and He did. One year later in 2007, I moved to Avon to work and be where I love, on the ocean. I had never been to the Outer Banks until I came here in 2007. When I first came across the bridge it was exactly like a dream I used to have as a child going across that bridge. But I had never seen it before arriving in 2007. I always told my parents I was going to live on an island one day. So when I was offered the chance to work for Ocean Atlantic Rentals, I took it. I chose Avon out of all the locations of OAR because it has the best waves. I made the move to the Outer Banks on my own, without knowing anyone. It was a very difficult move because change bothers the autistic man very much, but I was so happy to be free on the sea, and I never wanted to leaveand still dont. At one point early in my adventure, I was living in a hammock in my friends back yard; my bedroom had become my friends yard. In that hammock I was still happy. Even when my friends would come to wake me up during a rain to come sleep inside, I would be too out of it resting peacefully in the rain to even notice. My mom and dad will be the first to say that I can make any room a mess, and its funny how I could even make a yard messy. Im happy to say I have my own apartment now. After graduating, and moving to the Outer Banks permanently, I put my teacher certification to use and worked with autistic children at the elementary school, but my health caused me to miss too many days; so now I substitute every now and then. But most of the time I spend exploring different lonely beaches and searching for good waves and surfing. I love working with the kids though. What I enjoy about teaching is being with innocent souls that are still fresh out of heaven and have no prejudices or judgments on you or others and do nothing but love and express themselves freely. Also, when theyre so young you have a chance to place something great and wonderful in the cornerstone of their being that can last their lifetime. This means you can make a difference in someones life by being a wonderful loving teacher to a child who may come from a rough background; it gives them belief and hope in life. All my health conditions help me relate to all different children well. I have compassion and know how they feel and what theyre truly going through its a gift and a curse. I was engaged to a local Hatteras girl for a while, but I think I need to find a girl who is either autistic or loves the oceanor both. When I say loves the ocean, I mean REALLY loves the ocean.

All photos in this story are used with permission. Thank you Adam Norko for allowing us to share this story. Thank you Jordan Bartholomew for sharing your story, poetry and photos.
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Volume 3, Issue 3 BECOMING YOUR BEST


When I moved here I just fell in love with surfing. I paddle out when its flat or when its crazy.I just dont care. I want to be within mother oceans waters. She loosens up my joints, muscles, relieves my headaches, fixes my balance, and on goes the list. Ever since I moved here, I dont spend time constantly in the hospital like I did in Ohio. The hospital was my second home; much of my life has been there. Now I surf. I go to the beach everyday and even get in the water if there are no waves it really is the only thing that physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc., makes me feel better. With my health now, walking and standing are very painful (which many dont realize because I dont complain), but in the water that pain drifts away like a fast moving front. Feeling weightless just loosens up all my body, and I become one with the water. It is so amazing how healing mother ocean really is; her salty waters are a miracle, and my life is proof of this. I feel so much better because I have a place where I can explore and constantly find new things every day. The warm weather heals me the salt in the air and ocean are part of the healing. I am stronger and in much better shape than when I was in Ohio. I am more active and so much happier. I still struggle, but compared to Ohio its night and day. I am starting photography, finding out I can paint, writing poetry, and I really got into music when I moved here too my favorite instrument to play is the harmonica. My health has come to the point where I cant work consistently, so now Im in debt looking for a way I can be of use and support myself. I am hoping someone will discover my art, poetry, and photography because I love doing those things, and they allow me a lot of time for my therapy surfing! I dont know why Im doing what Im doing because Im not making money, but I know there is some reason I have come as far as I have. Doing something with surfing is my dream job, but its not my dream job to make money for me. I want to be able to support myself and use all the rest to help others mainly children. There are people on the Outer Banks that I dont even know who have helped me. My family has helped me, but my family is not rich in money, so its a constant worry. Just as God supports the birds and provides for them and they worry about nothing, I believe somehow, some way He will provide for me too. All I can say is after all I have been through with my life, its already been a long shot that I made it this far. I only made it this far because of my faith; people just dont believe anymore and its what we all need to do. All Ive done is believe with all my heart and now here I am enjoying toys from God.

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Some examples of photographs taken by Jordan Bartholomew. These and other pictures can be purchased from Jordancontact him through his e-mail at:

COMING AUGUST 10-11, 2012 at Nags Head, North Carolina SURFING FOR AUTISM
Registration will begin after Easter. You can find out more information by going to

See video highlights from Surfing for Autism 2011 by going to Visit our website - and become a friend on Facebook at Becoming Your Best. We appreciate your support in spreading hope and encouragement to others.

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