On Feb. 27, the Van Alstyne Elementary PTA hosted the “Yes, You Can!” program for the elementary students. Paralympian Lloyd Bachrach, who was born with a physical disability, spoke to the students about how to overcome obstacles in order to achieve success.

In his speech, Bachrach revealed he was born with a congenital bone defect that caused the bones in his legs to be abnormally small. He stated that doctors told his parents that the birth defect would leave him unable to live a normal life or even ever be able to walk.

Determined to overcome the odds, Bachrach started to use prosthetic legs as a teenager. This enabled him to compete in several sports. He especially excelled in gymnastics, where he held his own against able-bodied competitors. In 1996, Bachrach earned a spot to compete in the Paralympic games for floor volleyball.

The heart of Bachrach’s message was to inspire students to not judge themselves or others if they have disabilities. Despite his struggles of growing up and looking different than his peers, Bachrach was able to achieve athletic and personal success. Bachrach emphasized that students should walk away from the presentation with an understanding that just because someone may be different, it does not make the person disabled. Instead, Bachrach prefers using the term “differently abled” to refer to people in a less negative and harmful way.

“What a great message for the students and adults, alike,” VAEF Executive Director Dacia McBryde said of the program.

Bachrach said he hopes to inspire students to overcome adversity in order to lead meaningful lives.

In addition to being a paralympian, Bachrach credits himself as an entrepreneur and author. More information about him and his unique journey can be accessed at his website, yes-you-can.net/about.php.