On October 14 and 15 year 5/6 students from the Community of Wingham Schools listened to the inspiring story of key note speaker Michael Crossland.
Michael shared his story of determination, positivity, success and humanitarianism with students from Elands, Bobin, Mount George, Wingham Brush, Wingham Public School and Wingham High School.
Michael’s story started when he was 11 months of age when he was diagnosed with a terminal cancer giving him a 96 per cent chance dying or as Michael said a four per cent chance of beating the disease.
With numerous bouts of chemotherapy, surgery and years in hospital the doctors had all but given up hope.
They even told his mum “we didn’t get it all” when referring to the last surgery performed before they advised the family to enjoy their last days with Michael.
But the family didn’t give up hope and they signed up for an experimental treatment the very next day.
This trial took them to the burns unit at Westmead because the after effects of the drug were so severe it burnt the children’s skin and internal organs.
Michael lost one of his lungs as well as a kidney while constantly having burnt skin.
Out of the 25 terminally ill children only Michael survived.
After that Michael made remarkable progress with his mother by his side.
He just wanted to be normal and go to school and have friends just like all the other kids his age.
His mum bought him a Baseball Glove and a ball as he started to improve.
He asked the doctor to place the treatment needle in his head instead of his hand just so he could play catch with his mum.
Michael played all of the time.
He started to dream bigger and said to his mum “not only do I want to be normal, I want to play baseball in America”.
Years later he defied all the doctors odds and Michael left the hospital, went to school, played baseball, got selected to represent his town of Coffs Harbour, and was then selected in the NSW Country team to go to the nationals.
All was going well until he suffered his first heart attack at the age of 12 and couldn’t go to nationals and was once again hospitalised for a lengthy period of time.
More than determined than ever Michael worked his way back into the NSW country baseball team to go to nationals and was selected in the Australian team to tour America.
Michael had reached his goals and dreams.
He was also picked up by a scout and signed his first professional baseball contract at the age of 17 to play baseball in America.
Michael was now living his dream.
He was getting paid to play a sport he loved in front of thousands of people.
All was going well until he suffered another heart attack when sliding into a base and returned to Australia with his dreams shattered.
The doctors told him he needed to slow down as the cancer treatment he had earlier in his life had affected the functioning of his heart.
It was time to step away from the game he loved and take things easier.
When he came back he was approached by the media to tell his story and offered large amounts of money.
It took a phone call from Camp Quality ambassador Tony Strickland to convince him to choose the Australian Story (a free program) to create awareness for Camp Quality and give something back to the cancer community.
His Australian Story has had over four million views and was voted the fourth most inspirational film at the World Film Wwards in Japan in 2008.
Michael made a career change and went into the banking sector after coming home.
He started from the bottom as a doorman and worked his way up to area manager with 600 staff working under him and he answered directly to the CEO.
But he wasn’t happy with his life and Michael talked about “crying himself to sleep”.
Michael was making really good money, had a nice car and house but he felt empty.
It took a stroke which paralysed the right side of his body for him to wake up and walk out of the corporate world.
Michael left everything to build a school in Haiti after the earthquakes there levelled the place leaving hundreds of thousands dead and many isolated and orphaned.
After building the school he saw a need for more help so he went back to Coffs Harbour to raise money to build an orphanage back in Haiti.
Michael went back and rebuilt the orphanage from the ground up with the funds he raised back in Australia.
Here he talked to the staff about finding the real meaning of the term success.
That it’s not about the car you drive or how much material possessions you have.
It’s about helping others.
It’s about finding your bliss.
Michael Crossland is now a motivational speaker who shares his story all over the world to all walks of life including school children, corporate businesses, 9/11 victims and their families in the United States, the Canterbury Bulldogs and many more.
He is a Camp Quality ambassador and also hosts a radio show as well as presenting on Fox TV.
He continues to get knocked back down recently receiving news that he has cancer in his throat but he continues to get back up.
Telling the children “life is a rollercoaster with peaks and troughs and it’s how you address the adversity in your life that builds your character. What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger”.
He is booked out until mid-2016 with his presentations under high demand.
When a student from the Wingham Brush asked Michael what the most satisfying thing he has done in his life he replied “put a pink ribbon on the door of a house I have made for my mum”.
The children and staff from the Community of Wingham Schools were moved and inspired by Michael Crossland’s story.
With a staff member commenting “it’s a story everybody should here.”
Thank you Michael, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with our staff and students.