MILWAUKEE -- At first glance, Ron Bachman might be considered the ultimate underdog, but if you allow yourself to "walk this way," you'll find that his life has been worthy of a movie and a book. Bachman is a champion for helping save young lives.
The sight of Prince Fielder leaving the Milwaukee Brewers for the mega-bucks free agent contract he signed with the Detroit Tigers has to excite Ron Bachman. Ronnie, as he's known to his friends across America, is a big-time Tigers fan who grew up in the Motor City. He might have been a terrific athlete in his day, but Bachman never really had the chance.
"I was born with a congenital birth defect, and at the age of four my parents made the decision, which I am sure, you know, I am a dad now so I can only imagine how heart-wrenching, to have both of my legs amputated," Bachman said.
Despite his challenge, Ronnie rarely felt sorry for himself. It wasn't allowed in his household anyway! "There was no whining. There was no moaning and groaning. As a young adult, that's where the struggles seem to come in with the adult view of someone with a disability. People make fun of me, people stare at me, simply because I have a disability. The job market, you know, discrimination there. Are you going to date? Are you going to get married? Are you going to become a dad? All of those things play into wanting to carve out your path as your own life. I did all of those things," Bachman said.
Bachman was picked on and bullied at times, but he has very good memories of days as a child in northwest Detroit.
In fact, the 54-year-old Bachman, a divorced father of one, raised his daughter by himself. She now lives in New York and works in the medical industry. "It's like, you see people every day with what you would perceive to be extraordinary circumstances. For me, they're not extraordinary circumstances. They're Ronnie Bachman. That's all I know," Bachman said.
For Bachman, the days of wondering why ended a long time ago. He's a firm believer that regardless of your lot in life, you have choices. "You do have a choice. You can cry, and stay home, and not participate, and just become this person who no one knows. You're just this person. In my opinion, your loss. Or, you can dive into the deep end," Bachman said.
Bachman really dove into the deep end in 1996 when he was approached to appear in a documentary film based on his life, called "Walk This Way." The award-winning work featured a cameo appearance by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and most recently of American Idol fame, and focused on bullying. Bachman received an Emmy nomination, and became good friends with Tyler. More importantly, "Walk This Way" helped open up a whole new world to his remarkable life by launching his speaking career.
Touching thousands of youngsters was the last thing Bachman saw himself doing years ago, but now, he's come full-circle. He says life has so much purpose and meaning, but that's not all. "These kids are lost, the cutting, the suicidal tendencies, and then the number of suicides, Bachman said.
Growing up, Bachman wanted to be Johnny Carson and Jerry Lewis, and wanted to make people laugh.
Bachman feels a burden for every youngster he meets. "Why Ron? Why not Ron? It's obvious why me. The first thing they're going to recognize is that I know. I don't just think I know. I know what it's like to feel different - not through middle school, not through high school, for 54 years," Bachman said.
More than anything, Bachman is sincere about his message, and he urges parents to say the words to their children that can make all the difference in the world. "I love you with all my heart. You are my world. That's all a kid needs to hear every day, and I'm telling you, those words will stop a kid from hurting themselves. It will stop a kid from taking a drug. It will stop a kid from committing a crime, if they truly know. Because my kids tell me, my dad don't care, my mom don't care, so why should I? They need to know how loved they are," Bachman said.
CLICK HERE to visit Ronnie Bachman's website.