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Guest Interviews

Patrick Henry Hughes & Patrick John Hughes

Edited By NA

2063 08/16/09

Patrick Henry Hughes (PH) and Patrick John Hughes (PJ) are father and son. Patrick Henry was born with severe physical limitations, but with the help of his father Patrick John, is a member of the University of Louisville Marching Band. Patrick Henry is an award winning pianist, singer and trumpet player. They have captured their story of faith and triumph in the new book entitled, "I Am Potential."

RHS: My guest Patrick Henry Hughes is sitting in his wheelchair at my left. His father is also up here with him, John Hughes. Patrick Henry Hughes is a living witness to the scripture verse "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Despite being born with severe limitations, Patrick Henry and Patrick John are known as the father and son duo from the Louisville University Marching Band. Today they're here to share with us their story of faith and triumph that has been captured in their new book, "I Am Potential." Welcome with me Patrick Henry and father Patrick John Hughes.

PJ: Thank you!

PH: Thank you! Thank you very much.

RHS: You can sing, too!

PH: Yes, I am a pianist, a trumpeter and a vocalist.

RHS: Wow!

PH: Thank you.

RHS: I'm going to hold up on screen for everybody watching around the world the picture of your book and I want to ask you, it's called "I Am Potential." That's this ministry. Why did you write this book?

PH: Well my main message really to anyone is you know we're going to face problems on a day to day basis and there's probably going to be that one obstacle that you think oh I'm not going to be able to get through it but just remember if you set your mind to achieve a goal, then you can do it.

RHS: Wow. Patrick, let me check up on something because often times it's hard for me to be so close to get the details correct. Were you born without eyes?

PH: Yes, I was born without eyes. The condition is bilateral anophthalmia and the eyes just for some unknown reason did not develop and the eyes that I have now are artificial. And I also have a syndrome called pterygium which is a tightening of my joints at the elbows and the knees, which prevents me from completely straightening my arms and legs. They have movement but this is as far as I can straighten my arms and legs. They're bent at a 90 degree angle. And I also have congenital hip dysplasia; I have no femoral heads and because of that, that's why I use a wheelchair for mobility. And I also have scoliosis; I had to have the two steel rods surgically attached to my spine because it kept curving. It was never straight because of all the time I'd spent in the wheelchair.

But you know I don't dwell on that. I only dwell on the abilities. As a matter of fact, I see blindness more as an ability and sight more as a disability because there are some people with sight who tend to judge others by what they see on the outside but I don't see that. I don't see the skin color, the hair style or the clothing people wear; I only see that which is within a person.

RHS: Wow. Your father, Patrick John: every parent prays that their child will be born healthy. What did you and your wife think and when did you find out that your son was not the healthy boy you expected?

PJ: Well we found out in the delivery room that night. My wife had a picture perfect pregnancy and great prenatal care. We were always expecting the doctors to say you're the proud parents of a healthy baby boy, and those words never came. You know the hours and the days passed and we kept learning all of the things, you know, all the doctors were telling us all the things Patrick couldn't do and would never be able to do, and it was, you know, quite devastating at his birth.

But we went to work raising our son. We splashed around certainly in the pity pool for a few weeks, but decided this is the boy that we have and we love our baby and we're going to be the best parents we can for him and with God's help and our own hard work, we'll give Patrick as full a life as we had planned on giving him before he was born and came into this world as he is. What a return on investment, if you will. Our son has.. and I don't mean that financially but just the love that he has given back to not only us as a family but to the world and so many thousands of strangers whose lives he's touched, that have written us and called us and talked about Patrick.

RHS: Was there a point when you wanted to give up?

PH: Absolutely not! Well okay, granted, you know there are days where maybe the obstacle is too great, maybe I don't want to get up and go to classes or attend that marching band practice, but whenever I have those days, I just realize that I have to get it done and everything will turn out great in the end.

RHS: How do you handle a marching band? You're in a wheelchair. Who pushes you?

PH: Well my dad pushes my wheelchair through the formations and I learn the music.

RHS: I understand you had a very special dream for your son. Tell us about that.

PJ: Well Patrick is the oldest of my three sons, and I had this dream as a young man, a younger man when my boys were all being born, that we'd bond through sports. I was and still am a big fan of sports and all those things, but of course Patrick came into this world and immediately changed a lot of the plans I had. My wife and I talked about it at Patrick's birth what should have been such a great celebration turned out to be a.. you know we buried a lot of dreams that we had for our son.

And one of the dreams I buried, that I gave up on was that my son would one day be a star on a football field at a large university. And with God's guidance, you know, God decided that He would make that dream happen for me in ways I never could have imagined or scripted and Patrick became a star at the University of Louisville on their football field as a member of the marching band.

So it just goes to show that no matter what your dreams or your goals might be God has a way of making things happen in ways you can never imagine. And He certainly has shown me to never give up on any ideals or dreams or anything that I hope to do in my life, or that my son hopes to do in his life.

RHS: And Patrick, the son..

PH: Yes.

RHS: ..you've accomplished so much, but what role did faith play in your ability to be all that you can be?

PH: Well faith has played a major role in my life. You know whenever I feel an obstacle is too great, I can always go to God in prayer and He'll help me through it. I'm actually on my fifth reading of the holy bible..

RHS: Wow.

PH: ..as a matter of fact, yes, I read 15 to 30 minutes a day. I have the bible in Braille; 18 of those family bibles that sit on the coffee table, my Braille bible is 18 of those.

RHS: Wow.

PJ: It's very large.

RHS: Wow. So you're going to sing for us?

PH: Yes, a little rendition of "Amazing Grace."

RHS: Okay, let's do it!


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