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Focus of SWFL - - Fashion & Style - By Ginny Grim­s­ley

What if you could over­come your fears? What would you do, and how dif­fer­ent would you be? “Most peo­ple have no idea of what they’re ca­pa­ble of; I think they’re al­most trained by fear to not at­tempt the DPDzLQJ WKLQJV WKHy GrHDP RI. %uW ,’P OLYLQJ SrRRI – LI yRu can over­come fear, you can over­come al­most any­thing,” says Jay Platt, whose feats in­clude swim­ming across the Mis­sis­sippi River while hand­cuffed, shack­led and blind­foldHG. HH’V VuEMHFW RI WKH QHZ GRFuPHQWDry, “/LYLQJ UQVWRS­pable,”. 3ODWW ZDV OLYLQJ KLV GrHDP DV D U.6. 0DrLQH ZKHQ D FDQFHr syn­drome called von Hip­pel Lin­dau (VHL) ex­ploded like a bomb on his life. It caused tu­mors in his brain and on his spine, as well as kid­ney can­cer and the loss of his left eye. “I was mad at the world, and maybe part of me was afraid of the fact that I would be con­sid­ered a hand­i­capped per­son,” says Platt, who was re­tired from the Marines due to his health. Af­ter a per­sonal jour­ney of ac­cep­tance, how­ever, Platt went on ac­com­plish feats many world-class ath­letes wouldn’t con­sider. Along with his record-break­ing Mis­sis­sippi swim, he swam from Al­ca­traz Is­land to San Fran­cisco with his hands and feet tied, and he was one of fewer than 300 peo­ple to have hiked the 2,100-mile south­bound Ap­palachian Trail. HH WDONV DERuW fiYH DrHDV WKDW KHOSHG KLP RYHrFRPH IHDr and anx­i­ety in or­der to re­build his body, mind and spirit. • )RFuV RQ WKH MRyV LQ OLIH: :KHQ yRu rHDOLzH LW’V QRW DOO about you, the an­noy­ing voice that tells you to be afraid be­gins to shrivel and loses its poi­son. While still reel­ing from his di­ag­no­sis and its ef­fects on his life, Platt heard the care­free laugh­ter of a se­verely hand­i­capped girl be­ing pushed in her wheel­chair by her mother. “‘Lis­ten to the ELrGV, 0RPPD,’ , KHDrG KHr VDy – VKH ZDV MuVW VR KDSSy to ex­pe­ri­ence that sim­ple plea­sure,” he says. “That, more than any­thing, sent me on a pos­i­tive path.” His fam­ily, friends and those to whom he do­nates money through var­i­ous char­i­ties gives Platt strength. • 6SLrLWuDO SrHSDrDWLRQ: -uVW DV 3ODWW WrDLQV SKyVLFDOOy IRr KLV IHDWV, KH fiQGV LW HVVHQWLDO WR ZRrN RuW VSLrLWuDOOy LQ RrGHr to stand up to the fear and anx­i­eties that life’s tri­als bring. To that end, he sur­rounds him­self with pos­i­tive mes­sages and pos­i­tive peo­ple, in­clud­ing his friend Les Brown, the in­fluHQWLDO DuWKRr RI WKH VHOI-KHOS ERRN, “/LYH YRur 'rHDPV.” • UVH VHWEDFNV DV D PRWLYDWRr: :KHQ VRPHWKLQJ EDG KDSSHQV, RQH RI WKH PRVW FRPPRQ rHVSRQVHV LV IHDr – IHDr WKDW it will hap­pen again; fear that you’re less than you used to be; or ir­ra­tional fear. Platt al­ways knew he’d be a Marine; when he was forced to re­tire early, he had to re­cal­i­brate his en­tire life. “One of my fa­vorite quotes is ‘What are you GRLQJ QRZ"’ – ,W GRHVQ’W PDWWHr ZKDW yRu uVHG WR EH,” KH says. Platt is al­ways look­ing for­ward to achiev­ing his next goal. • 5HPHPEHr D JrHDWHr JRRG: :KHQ KH VWDrWHG HxSHrLHQFLQJ FRPSOLFDWLRQV IrRP 9H/, ZKLFK firVW PDQLIHVWHG LQ KLV OHIW eye, Platt promised God that he’d de­vote his life to oth­ers LI KH JRW WKrRuJK WKH VFDrH. HH KDV NHSW WKDW SrRPLVH – KLV Ap­palachian Trail hike alone raised $109,000 for char­ity. “Stay­ing true to a prom­ise might be the most emo­tion­ally solid aid to over­com­ing fear,” Platt says.

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