Much Love and Respect for ‘The Mayor’ of Hauppauge High School
On Wednesday, May 23, 2018 the Rotary Club of Hauppauge honored their final ‘Student of the Month’ for the 2017-2018 school year in an early morning breakfast meeting at the Paradise Diner. Hauppauge High School (HHS) senior Matt Greiner is the May 2018 honoree.
Matt is an extraordinary young man who has not let his physical disabilities stop him from meeting with success. Mr. Greiner is a strong-willed individual who enjoys a spirited debate. He is a beloved member of the HHS Class of 2018. His classmates hold him in such high regard that they affectionately refer to Matt as the ‘Mayor’ of Hauppauge High School.
Matt is a musician who plays the trumpet and bongos. He is a member of the Wind Ensemble and the Eagles’ Marching Band. Mr. Greiner has been a member of the Golf Team. He is a member of the German Club, Best Buddies and the Junior Achievement’s High School Heroes Partnership.
Mr. Greiner’s favorite class is Business as part of the International Baccalaureate program. All this experience has inspired Matt with a desire to pursue a career in Law and Finance with an eye towards becoming a Corporate Lawyer on Wall Street. He will take a substantial first step when he attends St. John’s University in Queens this September.
Rotary Club Chapter President Patricia Bowens McCarthy shared Matt’s senior essay at the Student of the Month breakfast and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
What follows is Mr. Greiner’s moving inspirational essay.
“Achondroplasia: A genetic condition in which the growth of long bones by ossification of cartilage is retarded, resulting in very short limbs and stature. At least that's what the dictionary says ...
I'm a Little Person. 4'4" to be exact. Being a Little Person has been a lifelong challenge for me, both physically and emotionally. It has at times been very hard for me to keep a positive attitude, and not throw in the towel. Yet as I grow older, I realize that my condition has also provided me many experiences and life lessons that have strengthened my character and make me the person that I am. have learned that determination and hard work really do pay off. I have gained a true respect for others and am able to appreciate and embrace their differences. I have decided to live my life as a Person first, and Little second. That's not as easy as it may sound; I'm proud to say I have achieved it.
After I was born, my parents sought the best healthcare possible for me. I routinely made visits to a hospital in Delaware, where I was measured, weighed, and examined. CAT scans, MRl's, X-rays, and hospitalizations were fairly frequent, but I did try to keep a smile. We tried to make the long trips more bearable by playing "I Spy with My Little Eye" in the car, sometimes stopping for ice cream or a Cinnabon on 1-95. It wasn't until about 1st grade when I really started noticing that I was different, physically than everyone else. Still I played baseball, went to karate, and took some golf lessons, like my friends did, and never let my disability get in the way.
In 5th grade, I needed a double osteotomy, which is a surgery where the doctor technically breaks both of your legs and realigns them with metal wire and pins to prevent them from bowing, which is a common problem for Little People. Time for leg casts, a wheelchair and the mini-bus for a couple months. I'll never forget watching the doctor pull the metal wires out of my legs with a pair of pliers ... not pretty! But overall, my medical issues have been manageable, thanks to great doctors and great family.
Most daily physical challenges I deal with are because of my height, such as inability to reach cups in the kitchen cabinet or towels in the closet. It takes me a little longer to get from one place to another; I'm usually running to keep up with the walking speed of other people. I have my license now and am able to drive with the help of pedal extenders. With all of these bumps in the road, I'm lucky that I've always been able to get through.
The social aspects of being small, however, are a bit tougher for me to deal with. In our society where "bigger is better," I sometimes feel like I lose out. It's hard for me to go to an amusement park when I can't go on the rollercoaster because I'm too short, but my 7-year old cousin can. As my friends grew, I did not. As they participated in the more competitive team sports in middle school and high school, my size eventually became a deal-breaker. People taking photos of me without asking as I stroll around the mall with my friends or being treated as a younger age than I am, are still difficult for me to deal with. But I'm working on it.
As I prepare for college and this exciting new chapter in my life, I have decided to write and live by my own definition of Achondroplasia: A genetic condition which a short-statured individual becomes incredibly determined to succeed, enjoy life, and help others do the same. As it turns out, good things really do come in small packages.”
Rotary Club members ask themselves four questions when considering doing or saying anything. They consider (1) is it the truth, (2) is it fair to all concerned, (3) will it build goodwill and better friendships, and (4) will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Rotary's programs are developing the next generation of leaders, providing funding to make the world a better place, and making peace a priority. And their programs are not just for club members. Learn how you can make a difference in your community through Rotary. Visit https://www.rotary.org/en/our-programs
End Polio site: https://www.endpolio.org/