In high school and at Florida State University, Charles Clark’s athletic ability took off. He trained and competed as a top track-and-field runner and became the sixth-fastest man in the sport. A devastating quad muscle tear slowed him down for two years, but he pushed forward toward recovery. During that time, he found a second passion and talent as a singer and songwriter. His mom has offered lots of love and support along the way.
Clark shared, “I love to talk about the struggle. I went from being one of the fastest men in the world to not being able to stand on my own two feet. I remember wanting joy. I made a great transition. I was still able to go overseas and to the Olympic trials. I learned that it’s bigger than me. People don’t care if you win, people care about your heart. I believe God is molding me.”
His new purpose is to change lives as a motivational speaker. He recently came to Empath Health and shared his story with about 100 of our volunteers. Alicia Lawler, a senior volunteer coordinator for our Suncoast Hospice Care Centers, discovered Clark online and specially requested him to provide this summer support free-of-charge for the volunteers. He agreed.
“One of the things I really love to do is give back. I have passion projects. I give away 20 free speeches a year. Your organization said they wanted the volunteers to be appreciated,” he said.
Clark challenged the group to search for gratitude in their lives, even during circumstances that are beyond their control.
“I’m going to challenge you to find gratitude in the most difficult things in life. If you can embrace the uncontrollable, then you can alter your life in ways that you cannot even imagine.”
Other challenges he set forth included finding hope in their losses, recognizing helpful people and grabbing hold of every day of life.
“Once we find that attitude for gratitude, our lives become legendary. We must take time to appreciate the people who have changed our lives. I challenge everyone to go home and practice this gratitude on a daily basis.”
Today, Clark remains grateful for the meaningful life he has created. He lives in Tampa, takes care of his mini-schnauzer named Flash, sings in church, competes in Toastmasters International speech events and participates in many speaking engagements.
“My dream now is to motivate people. Everybody is going through something, and I want to help pull them out and help them thrive. I want to see everybody win.”