Our 2018 hallmark event was the No Barriers Summit in New York City. I have heard wonderful feedback, but one note in particular was especially touching to me as a parent. Rosalie Mastaler attended with her husband and their sons, ages five and eight. Afterwards, she wrote my team to express her gratitude and some takeaways from the weekend. She was mainly there to support her eight year-old son, Hunter, who had lost a leg three years ago from a dog attack and just recently was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss. As his mom, Rosalie was struggling to find the balance of letting him find his way in the world, but also trying to keep him safe and healthy without being overprotective.  Often we focus on the person who has sustained the injury or received the life-changing diagnosis, but equally there are barriers that the families and loved ones of these folks face. By attending the Summit as a family, Rosalie, her husband, and their sons were able to heal and grow.

Rosalie’s reflections in her own words:

“Thank you for wanting to give back, and for giving people a home and sense of belonging, especially for those who may not feel like they have that anywhere else.  Since Hunter lost his leg and some of his hearing there have been a lot of struggles, but we are pressing forward.

The Summit recharged our family and taught me a very important lesson. As I listened to the speakers and observed their tenaciously positive attitudes for life, I realized that although their challenges should have been debilitating, they instead made them stronger. In a sense, the worst thing that happened to them turned into the best thing that happened to them.

a photo of their whole family posing in front of the no barriers backdrop
The whole family arriving at the NYC No Barriers Summit.

I have heard people who have gone through life-altering traumas reiterate  that they wouldn’t take back what happened to them because it has changed them for the better. However,  I questioned whether I felt the same way about what happened to Hunter.

a photo of hunter in a wheelchair post opp with his mom and dad all giving thumbs up
In the hospital the day after Hunter’s leg amputation surgery.

I have to admit, it is a little different because I am his mother. I am not the one that is having to physically overcome the trials, but being that my son is so young, my job is to help lead the way. I need to model the same attitude that I want him to embody.  I don’t want him to feel like his life should be different, or to have the desire to go back and change the course of events. They happened. They were tragic, heartbreaking, and devastating, but we can’t go back and change anything. I want him to know that he can break through any barrier, and can gain strength, hope, and ultimately, a greater joy.

a photo of hunter climbing up the rock wall at the no barriers summit in nyc
Hunter tackles Mark Wellman’s rock wall on the deck of the Intrepid at the NYC No Barriers Summit.
a photo of hunter sitting cross legged on the summits artwork on the ground at the nyc summit
Hunter posing on the Summits artwork during the No Barriers Summit in NYC.

Although we came for Hunter, I felt that I gained the most perspective and inspiration. I found so much hope and motivation. I found hope for Hunter’s future, and motivation to be better and stronger. As for my sons, the Summit made a huge positive impression on them. They still talk about their experience in NYC and they often show me the sign language they learned (“I know No Barriers”), continue to wear their No Barriers t-shirts and even shout the phrase, “No Barriers” when they are in the car together listening to your book.  

a portrait style photo of rosalie mastaler
Rosalie Mastaler. Photo Credit: Jenolyn Christensen Photography
a photo of hunter lounging in a chair at a photo shoot in his no barriers t shirt
Hunter just chillin’ in his No Barriers Tee. Photo Credit: Jenolyn Christensen Photography
a black and white photo of hunter posing at a photo shoot wearing his no barriers shirt
Lookin’ sharp! Photo credit: Jenolyn Christensen Photography

I stand by what I said before about turning the worst thing that happened to you into the best thing that happened to you. The day of Hunter’s accident was one of the worst days of our lives. It was a nightmare to watch our son go through what he did. Never in a million years would I think an accident would lead to one of my children losing a limb. Sometimes it’s still so mind-boggling, but through the years we’ve been able to heal, recover, and meet the most interesting and inspirational people.

It has been a difficult road as we have watched and helped my son adjust to his new life. There are moments when we are still trying to figure it out, but we are grateful for how far we have come. Thank you for fulfilling the vision you had. No Barriers was truly inspiring, and it has changed my life.”

a photo of rosalie hugging her son hunter
Rosalie with Hunter. Photo Credit: Jenolyn Christensen Photography
a photo of a happy family sitting on a dock on a pier
Rosalie, her husband, and three sons. Photo Credit: Jenolyn Christensen Photography

Join us at our next No Barriers Summit in Tahoe June 13th-16th, 2019: Sign up here to be notified when registration opens.