KANSAS CITY, Mo. — January 14, 2012 is a date Wesley Hamilton will never forget.
“I remember getting shot, I remember looking at the man who shot me. I never knew who he was,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton was shot twice in the abdomen and instantly paralyzed.
“I remember telling a friend of mine that was with me that I was going to die cause that's all I knew,” Hamilton said.
Now the 30-year-old KC native is using what paralyzed him as motivation.
“He gave me life when he was trying to take my life,” he said.
As founder of the Disabled But Not Really Foundation, Hamilton uses fitness as a way to encourage others who are physically disabled to push past their limits.
On Tuesday, Hamilton spoke with students apart of KC Startup Foundation’s MECA Challenge, discussing gun violence in the community and finding solutions.
“It wasn't a surprise to me that kids thinks that it's normal, it's everywhere,” Hamilton said of gun violence. “Violence is hard, but it's a way to change it.”
Hamilton said some youth lack leaders.
“They're constantly looking at distractions to motivate them,” he said. “When you're a product of your environment and no one's teaching you something different or teaching you how to be a leader within yourself, then you just going on to try and be like everybody else.”
Through his nonprofit, Hamilton hopes to change that mentality, being an advocate and leader for change, through fitness.
“Disabled But Not Really doesn’t just focus on people with a physical disability,” he said. “It’s mental and emotional that we attack. I believe that pushing yourself past limits of your ability, you are unstoppable.”
It’s a mindset he’s used for the past six years, and doesn’t intend on stopping anytime soon.
“I was paralyzed mentally, while I was walking, and now that I’m paralyzed, I’m mentally free.”
For more information on the foundation, click here.