After viewing a 20-minute inspiring video about his life as a congenital amputee, Dave Stevens told students, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” Stevens gave his “Impossible Dream” lecture Wednesday, March 6 in the Student Center’s Blue Lounge.
“I never knew what it was like to have legs, so I do not wish I had them,” said Stevens, who was born in 1966 without legs due to his birth mother taking thalidomide while she was pregnant. He reminded the students that they are leaders and they “can shape and mold the world.” He also encouraged them to “never give up, keep fighting, keep battling, and always go for your dreams.” Stevens said he is very thankful to his adoptive parents and for his three sons, ages 8, 6 and 4, whom he is raising alone.
Even though he had a disability, Stevens was a three-sport athlete (football, baseball and wrestling) at Wickenburg High School in Arizona. While there, he set three Arizona state records–most takedowns in a single wrestling season (118), most career baseball walks (96) that was previously held by Bob Horner, and the season record for walks (46). He went on to attend Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he was a varsity letterman in football from 1987-90. He was also a varsity letterman in baseball in 1987, a year his team played in the Division III national tournament.
While attending Augsburg College, Stevens fulfilled another dream: He got a job at a local television station as a newscaster. People would only see him from the waist up when he was on television so he would appear “normal to society.” Though Stevens doesn’t care what other people think of him, he said he still tells his children and everyone around him to “not judge a book by its cover.” Stevens said he does not want anyone to treat him differently, but does want people to realize that they are lucky to have simple things, like walking on legs, and not to take such things for granted.
After college, Stevens played for the St. Paul Saints, a Minor League Baseball team. To this date he is the only congenital amputee to ever play college football or Minor League Baseball. He said, “I feel blessed. Lots of opportunities have come my way.”
He is currently working for ESPN as manager of the assignment desk, and his team is responsible for coordinating coverage for all sports teams in the United States. This is his 17th year at ESPN, and, Stevens said, he loves every day of his job.
Stevens said that many challenges come into his life every day, but he does not wish things to be any different. Before he wrapped up his lecture, he told the audience, “Be thankful for the people in your life.”
Submitted by Chelsea Tougas ’12, Marketing and Public Relations Intern