DEAR ABBY: I've kept a column of yours for more than a decade. It dealt with famous people who had overcome life's adversities to become outstanding winners. Mine is so worn, I can barely read parts of it. I tried to make a copy, but it didn't come out very well. Will you please print it again? -- EVELYN McKINNON, EASTPOINTE, MICH.
DEAR EVELYN: The column you're referring to was a two-parter. My readers had submitted names of individuals who managed to succeed against the odds. I think it's well worth repeating. Read on:
DEAR READERS: In a recent column, I shared an item sent by Herman Endler, who, at age 40, suffered a stroke that left him totally disabled. He wrote:
"I wasn't able to get out of bed, but by the grace of God and a surgeon's skill, I made it. At times I was so despondent, I prayed it would all end. Then a friend gave me the enclosed inspirational piece, which I must have read 1,000 times. There were moments when I thought, 'This is it; this is the end.' Then I'd read the message again, and it pulled me through.
"Abby, some of the greatest men and women of our times have been saddled with disabilities and adversities but have managed to overcome them.
"Perhaps somewhere there is someone who is at the end of his or her rope and needs encouragement. Pass this along. It may save a life. It saved mine."
A portion of the inspirational piece:
"Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have a George Washington.
"Raise him in abject poverty, and you have an Abraham Lincoln.
"Subject him to bitter religious prejudice, and you have a Disraeli."
The response to that column was overwhelming. A distinguished publisher, philanthropist and former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain wrote:
"Dear Abby: Your column, 'From Adversity, Many Find Strength,' is indeed a masterpiece. I am adding it to my personal collection of 'reminders.'
"There are two great sources of inspiration in life, enthusiasm and tragedy, and I have been boxed in by both. But having been boxed in by both, I also recognize that perseverance is the key to escape and satisfaction. Sincerely, Walter Annenberg"
Hundreds of readers submitted additional names for the list of those who had succeeded against the odds. Some contributions:
-- Spit on him, humiliate him, then crucify him and he forgives you, and you have Jesus Christ.
-- Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes a Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only president of the United States to be elected to four terms.
-- When he is a lad of 3, burn him so severely in a schoolhouse fire that the doctors say he will never walk again, and you have a Glenn Cunningham, who set the world's record in 1934 for running a mile in 4 minutes, 6.8 seconds.
-- Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have a Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson, George Washington Carver or Martin Luther King Jr.
-- Make him the first child to survive in a poor Italian family of 18 children, and you have an Enrico Caruso.
-- Have him born of parents who survived a Nazi concentration camp, paralyze him from the waist down when he is 4, and you have the imcomparable concert violinist Itzhak Perlman.
-- Call a slow learner "retarded" and write him off as ineducable, and you have an Albert Einstein.
(See tomorrow's column for others who have succeeded against the odds.)