While rehabilitating from my Spinal Cord Injury my attention was drawn by this kid in a wheelchair that was starting a foundation with his own name to make change happen for people with a disability, Spinal Cord Injury specifically. A nurse had mentioned him to lift my spirit. “You’re not the only one fighting.” She said. And it sparked a bit of hope in a room where hope seemed to be difficult to find.

This kid’s courageous approach to life was the missing inspiration that I needed. His name would come up occasionally but I didn’t know much about him.

He became however the inspiration to 2nd Life Curaçao. Everyone deserves a 2nd chance, but you have to create it yourself. That kid with a Spinal Cord Injury, sitting in a wheelchair, just started a foundation, Fundashon Alton Paas. So why couldn’t i?

After doing my research what he was doing and why, I made sure that my organization could work beside him in the future without fishing in his pool. That people who would partake in his activities could continue with mine.

It took another two years, 2015 my break out year, for me to meet him personally. Alton Paas and I shook hands for the first time at the Levi Silvanie’s Superando Documentary Concert. Alton was featured in Levi’s music video clip Superando, dropping in the sea with his wheelchair at the beach where I had my accident. And I opened the evening with my testimonial on stage and launch 2nd Life Curaçao to a new public.

Levi Silvanie’s Superando Documentary Concert 2015
Andy Kirchner & Alton Paas

I just knew our roads were meant to cross and Alton has been an inspiration and motivation for me all this time and for The Recycled Pirate. Because if he can do all what he’s doing, what’s my excuse? And what if I can build something that can help him and his foundation to become bigger?

I had to prove myself to myself first. A little over three years ago I had just bought my car and was invited to the Fundashon Alton Paas Caribbean Spinal Cord Injury Congress. I drove myself to my first Congress since my accident and walked in with my 2nd Life Curaçao T-shirt and cargo pants while everyone was dressed up for the opening of the Congress with the presence of the Gouverneur. It was another wake up call or motivation or whatever you want to call it, but I knew I had to step up my game to play along with this boy that had become a man in the few years since we met. Two years later, in 2018, Alton asked me to be one of the speakers at the Caribbean Spinal Cord Injury Congress. As I walked up the stage, I took a look back at our first night at Teatro Luna Blou were we met. 

We’ve come a long way, this kid and I. We have grown (up) together!

My excuse to step on the stage December 13th is that I want to steal some of his light, so I can shine that on him, you and all the other fighters out there. I want you to know that doubts are there to test you if you really want something. I want to explain to you that insecurities are there for your survival and that we have to stick together and show up for each other. Because together we are strong(er)!

I will meet you December 13th at Teatro Luna Blou. Be on time. Bring your smile and we will bring the hope.

Thank you Alton for believing in me and with me in what we are going to create.

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Music of choice Levi Silvanie – Give it your best shot