February 1, 2018
I really value companies like Prudential, who fully incorporate the No Barriers Life into their culture. After I spoke to their Retirement team last January, they have not only embraced the No Barriers concept but have taken it and run with it. They have sponsored No Barriers veterans programs, sent their leaders to participate in hikes at our annual What’s Your Everest and Summit events, and have woven the tenets of No Barriers into their team’s mindset.
Most recently, Prudential Retirement hosted an employee conference appropriately themed: “Climb On,” with incredible speakers and performers.
Former No Barriers Warriors, Eric Donoho and Matt Burgess, kicked off the event and shared their stories onstage. Eric talked about fighting in Iraq, the physical and emotional toll it took, and how the discovery of No Barriers Warriors propelled him to reexamine his life. He was even inspired to take a risk and follow his dream of becoming a professional photographer. As Eric’s beautiful landscape photos were described to me, rolling behind him on screen, I was moved by the Reach Eric had demonstrated - that concrete action of taking a step into uncertainty, with the vision of elevating his life.
Eric presents to the Prudential team.
Dream Lake, Photo Credits: Eric Donoho
No Barriers graduate, Matt Burgess, founder of the non-profit, Freedom Fidos, an organization that rescues shelter dogs, trains them as service dogs, and pairs them with injured veterans, brought his dog on stage as well as a dog that Prudential had recently raised the funds to sponsor. Matt had experienced significant trauma during his various deployments with the Army, and on his return, was in a dark place. In 2012, he found No Barriers Warriors and began a long journey back to the world. His work with Freedom Fidos has helped him find purpose, as well as to heal emotionally.
Matt with a Freedom Fidos service dog.
I was moved to tears listening to Eric and Matt and could feel the weight of the room taking it all in. Then, comedian, Zach Anner, took the stage to provide some much needed levity. I once again had tears streaming down my face, only this time from laughing hysterically. Zach has cerebral palsy, which he explains is the “sexiest of the palsies,” and much of his act involves stories tackling people’s perceptions of his abilities and pursuing his dreams to act and perform. Zach emphasized how critical the people in his life have been to his success - his own Rope Team. Whether it’s someone driving him to the airport or carrying him to the top of a mountain to see a beautiful waterfall, he had a strong message to share on the importance of roping up and surrounding yourself with great people.
Zach reading an excerpt from his book, If at Birth You Don't Succeed.
Laughing with Zach post-show. He's holding a copy of Mandy's book, Sensing the Rhythm.
The evening was capped off with a performance by Mandy Harvey and her band. Mandy, who happens to be deaf, is a brilliant jazz musician. She’s been a No Barriers Ambassador for years and just recently was a finalist on America’s Got Talent! She’s a shining example of the No Barriers life in action.
Grabbing a backstage selfie with Mandy.
Mandy and her band perform her hit, "Try."
Prudential has shown what a positive effect No Barriers can have in the workplace. The message filters down to all facets of the culture and impacts everything from increased positivity to changes in the ways employees approach obstacles.
Thanks for being such a great supporter of No Barriers, Prudential! We are fortunate to have you on our Rope Team!