Darrius Simmons strode across the stage atop his prosthetic legs, sat down at the piano, and beautiful music poured out.
Hundreds were gathered inside the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. They listened, transfixed, as Simmons’ hands glided across the keys.
The 17-year-old from Warren, Ohio has only four fingers — three on his right hand, and one on his left. He also has prosthetic legs below the knees. For seven breathless minutes of the Not Impossible Awards, Simmons did not miss a note.
(The Not Impossible Awards hasn’t yet released the video, but below is a video of Darius Simmons playing the song he performed that night.)
“Do Not Be Afraid to Dream Big”
As powerful as it was to watch, Simmons’ performance was actually the 6th incredible scene of the Not Impossible Awards.
Anyone who attended the awards, which took place June 1, came away with a new perspective on the things human beings can do.
It’s literally a mind-expanding event. You bear witness to the most powerful stories, each seemingly more jaw-dropping than the last, and come out different.
“We can all reshape the world. Do not be afraid to dream big,” Mick Ebeling said that evening.
The “Do-Gooder Anarchists” Who Will Warm Your Heart
Ebeling is the founder and CEO of Not Impossible. We’ve featured him in a past episode on Crazy Good Turns, and an inspiration in his own right. But at the awards, Ebeling and his crew of “positive, do-gooder anarchists” (his description for the team at Not Impossible) paid homage to others.
The night began with Adriana Mallozzi. She’s a computer scientist and CEO of Puffin Innovations. Puffin gives people facing severe mobility issues more freedom and control over their lives. They’ve created a hands-free joystick one can control with their mouth, which syncs with everything from a smartphone to a computer to a wheelchair.
When Mallozzi speaks, you can hear the fight in her voice. It’s difficult for her to speak, but her determination in getting across her message is evident. So is her good humor. She cracked jokes on stage, and as you’ll see in the video above, she’s nearly always wearing a smile.
Then came Flare. They’re a technology company, but their work is probably best understood by its end result. Before Flare, if you were to be in Kenya and call for an ambulance, you’d have to wait for more than 4 hours. Now, with Flare’s infrastructure in place, in some cases that response time is down to 4 minutes.
The evening also honored the work of three other groups innovating to make an impact:
- Saathi Eco Solutions, which is helping more women throughout India get access to proper sanitary pads. Importantly, they’re also making those care products environmentally friendly.
- Butterfly Network, which makes medical ultrasound technology available at a fraction of the traditional cost. They developed an app that allows people to conduct these life-saving scans through their smartphones.
- HotSpot, which is trying to bring the internet to the 3.9 Billion people around the world who currently do not have access to it. Oh, by the way, the three founders of this company are all 18-year-olds.
How An Event Like This Changes You
By the end of the Not Impossible Awards, some in the crowd felt like a football team who had just received the greatest pre-game speech of all time. You were ready to charge out and take on anything.
Ebeling could sense this at the event. Toward the closing of the show, Ebeling called the crowd gathered there as a “bubble.” He then asked: How can you take what you’ve felt here tonight out into the world?
That’s why I say the Not Impossible Awards are something everyone should experience once. Walking out of the theater that evening, you knew the following statements are true:
You can do anything in life.
You can make a difference doing it.
What are you going to do about that?
The Value of Inspiration
The honest answer for me was: I don’t know.
Maybe that’s yours too.
Don’t worry if that’s the case. There is value in feeling so inspired, even if you don’t immediately have a direction for it. Research indicates as much.
“People who were generally more inspired in their daily lives also tended to set inspired goals, which were then more likely to be successfully attained,” wrote Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at Columbia University, in summing up the findings.
The word “inspire” comes from Latin inspirare, which means “to breathe or blow into.” Just as you expand your body when you inhale, inspiration makes our figurative lungs bigger for whatever the task.
Through inspiration, we become more capable and ready. So when the time comes, we can recall that feeling almost like muscle memory.
Then we apply the power of what we’ve seen from those who’ve gone before to our own task at hand.
Brian Sabin is a producer for the Crazy Good Turns podcast.