INSPIRING OTHERS: ZACH MECHAM
Drake - Delta Omicron
14 March by Zach Mecham, '15
I am a proud Drake Bulldog and brother of Alpha Tau Omega. I am double majoring in theatre and education as well as pursing a music minor, and my goals are to be an English or special education teacher as well as coach speech and drama.
I improv act, play the drums in a worship band as well as the university and occasionally do some airbrush art. A fellow brother once asked me if there was anything I couldn’t do, but the ironic reality is I am not able to walk or use the restroom on my own. I have lived with a disability all of my life.
I have neuromuscular dystrophy, which is a disability that is slowly progressing and weakening my muscles. I could get into the science of it, but in the most practical of terms I can’t lift more than a few pounds, have trouble reaching things and need help with several daily tasks including getting in and out of bed and changing clothes.
I specifically mentioned my pursuits in education and hobbies before my disability because I personally make it a point not to be defined by it. Not only do I not want anyone to see a disability that limits me, but I also don’t like being seen as someone who does things in spite of their disability. When people talk about me, I hope they talk about the good I try to do for others and the integrity with which I live my life – not the way I cope with a disability.
In addition to pursuing my career goals, I have made it my mission to inspire others to know that their life circumstances don’t have to define them or determine their quality of life. Whether it be a physical or mental disability, a rough past, or a bad family situation, someone with the right amount of determination and sound priorities can rise above.
In light of this mission, I have begun to work with the Harkin Institute to enhance opportunities for those who are disabled. It is my hope to see others who are disabled become confident in their ability to learn and work as well as be empowered to do so. I have spoken on a panel of Drake students with a variety of disabilities to discuss the barriers in place that make going to college a challenge.
I can tell you that due to these barriers, I have had to work twice as hard to get the same degree as my peers. If it wasn’t for the support of my friends and family, I wouldn’t be here at all. Though I’ve recently had to move home and have not been as active as I would like to be in my chapter, I still owe a special thanks to my chapter brothers, who volunteered to help me with daily tasks and filled in last minute when personal attendants didn’t show up. One brother stuck with me for an entire semester as a personal attendant and another once came to my dorm room at 3 A.M. to help because the personal attendant at the time never showed up to put me to bed.
The brotherhood of ATO is truly special. Don’t take your brotherhood for granted and be as loyal to your brothers as they are to you.