Josh Sundquist, paralympic athlete and internationally known motivational speaker, spoke to students Tuesday night in the UC Auditorium.
Sundquist has brought his message of being positive to places such as Fortune 500 companies, inner-city public schools and the White House.
Sundquist lost his left leg at the age of nine due to a rare bone cancer and was given a 50-50 chance of survival. He was cured of the disease and eventually took up snow skiing. In 2006 he joined the USA Ski Team and competed in the 2006 Paralympics in Turino, Italy. He went on to write a memoir titled “Just Don’t Fall” and has gone on to become a YouTube sensation, gaining over 12 million views. His most famous video, “The Amputee Rap,” has over 800,000 views.
Sundquist has also developed a large fan base on Twitter with over 18,000 followers.
Sundquist speaks about remaining positive and hopeful against opposition. His speeches aim to encourage listeners to focus on the positive aspects of their lives instead of dwelling on the negative ones. Sundquist’s speeches are told through a series of stories about his life, each relating to his message of being positive.
“It’s because of my disability that I was able to go to the Paralympics as a ski racer,” Sundquist said. “It’s because of my disability that I’m able to do this, to give speeches all over the country and sometimes all over the world.”
The event was hosted by the Issues Committee, a student run organization and part of the Central Program Council. Eric Dixon, a senior in economics and Issues Committee member, explained the reason for bringing Sundquist to speak with students.
“We bring issues to campus that students might be interested in and we do that by bringing speakers to campus,” Dixon said. “He was proposed by Maggie Hanna on our committee, and she basically thought that some sort of motivational speaker — something that we don’t really do often — could bring a lot of interest. He’s a big YouTube sensation and we thought that UT students would enjoy to come see him.”
Although mostly UT students attended the event, Sundquist did draw some out of state fans to the event. Sara Kennedy and Alexis Rivers both made the two-hour drive from Asheville, N.C. to attend the event. Both are students at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and are fans of his YouTube videos.
“I really like him on YouTube,” Kennedy said. “I really like his speeches online.”
Kennedy stated that she decided at the last minute to come to Knoxville to listen to Sundquist speak.
“I found out about it when I watched his new video today,” Kennedy said. “I realized Knoxville was only about two hours away so I decided to come. I didn’t know I was coming until about an hour before I left.”