The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

March 23, 2013

Message on target: Much more to diversity than race

OTTUMWA — If your skin is the same color as someone else, it doesn’t automatically make you the same. Nor does a different skin color automatically make you different.

“When you first talk to people about diversity, they think right away of skin color,” said Freddy Miranda, director of international affairs at Indian Hills Community College. “But diversity is more than that.”

He, along with a group of community members from the Ottumwa area, organized the 2013 Diversity Conference on the IHCC campus.

They wanted participants to understand there’s more to diversity than race.

A group comprised of African-American, Asian, Latino and Anglo friends may have a lot in common. A group of white kids sorted into a classroom by last name might have some huge differences.

“It can be a homogeneous group, but there’s still diversity,” Miranda said.

That point was made more real by Friday’s keynote speaker, Matt Stutzman, an athlete from Fairfield.

Stutzman bills himself as “The Armless Archer.”

“As you can see,” he told a crowd that Miranda estimated to be near 700, “I have no arms. I do tell stories and joke about not having any arms, so it is OK to laugh.”

Stutzman, born without arms, has competed against individuals with disabilities, and those without. He refers to some archers as “cheating” because they have arms. He uses his feet for everything.

In first grade, his parents got him a pair of prosthetic (or what he called “fake”) arms. He barely used them.

“I don’t need arms,” he told the audience. “That’s not who I am.”

He is, however, an internationally respected competitive archer, a husband, father and auto enthusiast who said he can change a tire in 30 seconds.

“There were 20 other babies ... when my parents adopted me. They all had arms.”

It was only recently, he claimed, that he began to understand why he was chosen.

“I have a 9-month-old son. He has arms. He reached over and grabbed my entire salad before I could do anything about it. He wants to stick his fingers in electrical outlets, pick his nose, get his fingers slammed in drawers. I must have been a very [easy baby] to take care of.”

That’s why they chose me, he said. These days, he feeds himself, dresses and drives using his feet. His car is a normal, unmodified vehicle.

He’s also bowhunted deer, which is how he became interested in archery. He shoots a bow and arrow using his feet. During a precision archery demonstration at Friday’s conference, he loaded an arrow and drew the bow string with his feet.

He told a story about being stopped by the police while driving. It was dark, so because of his appearance, the police officer behind him seemed to think Stutzman was hiding something.

The officer spoke into his patrol car PA system.

“Sir, put your hands where I can see them!”

Stutzman paused.

This had never happened to him before. Finally, he turned his head toward the window and called out, “I don’t have hands.” When there was no response from behind him, and wanting to be helpful, he called out, “I can show you my feet.”

He didn’t get a ticket.

Friday’s visit didn’t involve telling the audience lesson after lesson about success, or hard work, or discrimination or even about diversity. The man himself was the lesson.

“Don’t give up,” said Makenzie Jewett, 18, a Centerville IHCC nursing student who stood in a long line after the presentation for the chance to meet the archer. “I watched him on TV at [London’s Para-] Olympics. My friends said they couldn’t do what he does. I can’t do that, and I have arms.”

Stutzman couldn’t do it, either — at least not at first. He participated in a tournament about four years ago. He did poorly. Still, a few days after the tournament, he got an endorsement offer from a bow company.

“I’ll take some free stuff!” he recalled thinking at the time.

Then, a tactless but honest friend rained on his parade.

“My jerk friend said, ‘You know they only sponsored you because you have no arms, and it draws attention to their product ... not because you’re good.’”

That may have hurt, but it also forced him to set a goal to be the best archer he could be. And he had a plan to reach that goal.

“For three years, I shot eight hours a day. I didn’t want to be ... a sideshow, a gimmick. I didn’t want to be sponsored by a bow company because I have no arms. I shot [thousands] of arrows.”

“I believed Matt Stutzman to be unstoppable,” Miranda said after the presentation when asked why organizers chose Stutzman.

Besides helping to show the different types of diversity, he said, a guy like Matt teaches people they will be more successful if they stop making excuses.

“Make a plan for how you will achieve your goal,” Miranda said. “A goal without a plan is just a dream.”

But there’s another requirement, Stutzman said. The people around us need to open their minds. The cliché that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover is true, he said, when it comes to him and many other people.

“My parents, my basketball coach, BP [oil company], all gave me a chance to prove myself. You never know who someone is by looking at them,” he said.

 

1
Text Only
Ottumwa
  • City Council approves sale of properties OTTUMWA — On Tuesday the Ottumwa City Council met for the last regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included in the agenda for the evening were several dispositions of city owned property. Structures and land located at 519 W. Fourth St., 723 E. Mar

    April 15, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 Right side up monster truck pic Nice driver --- mean machine OTTUMWA --- Drivers sat at one end of their vehicles during the "pit party," meeting fans and signing autographs before the motorsport and monster truck exhibition at Bridge View Center this weekend. Monster truck driver Orville Hill let kids --- and

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0415 OTT Composting ethical pic Recycling in a garden OTTUMWA --- Parents will tell you: They hate to see kids waste food. A gardner named Scott Koepke feels the same way. “First, let’s get our food to people who are going to eat it,” he said. “It hurts me to see kids in the schools throw away an entire

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0412 OTT Pothole color photo -T -M [Duplicate] A bumper crop of potholes OTTUMWA — The nice weather has been putting the bad roads on display. Officials say good: It gives us a chance to fix them. “Every city is going through the same thing,” said Larry Seals, Ottumwa Public Works director. “It has been an unusual winter

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home in a tent OTTUMWA -- As people live without shelter, they become desperate finding a place to sleep. The situation impacts more than just the community's homeless. "There is nowhere to put people who are homeless," said Mary Margaret Butler. "Nowhere." Ottumwa

    April 11, 2014

  • 0412 OTT Martha Speaks color photo -T -M Ottumwa children visited by cartoon star OTTUMWA — Iowa Public Television is celebrating its 45-year anniversary this year by helping communities like Ottumwa educate young children before they get into a school setting. One of the programs they are using to help reach out to children is by

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • United Way expanding on Corporate Community Garden OTTUMWA — The United Way of Wapello County created its Corporate Community Garden last year as a way to donate locally grown food to community members in need, and after a successful first year, it's hoping to expand the garden’s impact in its second

    April 11, 2014

  • City Council to discuss several property sales OTTUMWA -- The Ottumwa City Council will meet Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall for its second and final regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included on the agenda for the evening, among various other items, are several public hearings on t

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers wanted for playground construction OTTUMWA — Wildwood Park in Ottumwa is going to be the recipient of some rather significant playground upgrades in the near future, but in order for the construction of the new equipment to be free for taxpayers, there has to be enough volunteer power

    April 10, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National