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Paralympian Uplifts Vernon Students to be their Best Selves

“No excuses.” That’s the motto of motivational speaker, wrestler and American Paralympian Rohan Mario Murphy who inspired students at James H. Vernon School with his story of self-determination and perseverance.  

Mr. Murphy was born with severely deformed legs that had to be amputated when he was four years old, but he never let his disability stand in his way of his dreams. He shared his passion for sports, how he overcame obstacles and rose to become a star wrestler in high school and then at his dream school, Penn State University. He shared his wrestling camp experience where wrestling superstar Brock Lesnar encouraged him to walk on his hands for 100 yards to help him reach his full potential, and the awards he won, from Most Improved Player to earning Most Valuable Player, twice. His only wish, he said, is to go out in public without people staring at him.

Mr. Murphy, strong and muscular, picked a student from the audience and demonstrated a wrestling move that took him down to the ground. He walked on his hands across the stage and performed a series of pushups, clapping in between each one. After his presentation, students and staff, alike, were so enamored by his positive energy and enthusiasm for life, they expressed what a great wrestling coach he would be if he ever chose to pursue coaching. Several students, beaming with admiration, high-fived him to show their support.

“He was great. We really liked him,” said 4th graders Bryce Murphy, George Garcia and Jaelyn Zavala. “He was inspiring and really made us want to do better.”

The assembly was coordinated by Vernon School social worker Ms. Denise Ferrazano to foster character building and strengthen social-emotional skills such as exhibiting empathy and understanding, making responsible decisions, and setting and achieving positive goals.