Brick Walls & a Kick in the Teeth

Sherry B. (NDM#393) (10 Posts)

Sherry’s an unashamed Disneyaholic! Her earliest memories of Disney World include meeting Mickey and Minnie aboard the Empress Lilly Steamboat (now Fulton’s Crab House), the luau (complete with shell lei), and of course, Hoop de Doo! She has specialized in DisneyWorld experiences, ranging from childhood, teenager, college, newlywed, and mom. (Though she wishes she had been more persistent that her friends go with her to Disneyland Paris!) Interesting factoids: her dog’s real name is “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (Cali for short) and she is still pinching herself from her stay in Bay Lake Tower’s Grand Villa. (Second only to the Castle Suite, no doubt!) But don’t tell the kids about THAT one: Sherry and hubby Clay snuck away for a “grownups only” trip to the World and finally checked something off her bucket list: the Keys to the Kingdom tour and seeing the Utilidors. Best. Day. Ever!


“Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” -Randy Pausch

Maybe you’ve never heard of Randy Pausch. If not, them I’m thrilled to be introducing him to you. But if the name rings a bell, it’s because he was the Carnegie Mellon professor who gave the famous Last Lecture in 2008. And wrote the book of the same name. Unfortunately, Randy Pausch did not survive his fight with pancreatic cancer, which hit me so hard in the gut because my grandmother died of that same dreaded disease. But when I heard how much Randy loved Disney, I felt an instant kinship.

One of Randy’s goals was to become a Disney Imagineer, born of his early experiences at Disneyland. And as an accomplished computer science PhD, Randy figured he could find a niche at Walt Disney Imagineering. But as he puts it, they sent him the nicest “go to hell” letters he’d ever received.

Remembering his mantra–the brick walls are there for a reason–he approached his quest from a different angle.

This time, knowing that Disney was working on a virtual reality project (which is now the the Aladdin attraction at Magic Kingdom), Randy doggedly pursued the project’s team leader-even making a cross country trip to California to meet him (saying he was already planning on being there)! The story has a fairytale ending: despite additional obstacles thrown at him by his dean, Randy was ultimately able to take six month sabbatical from teaching to become a Disney Imagineer. Childhood dream accomplished.

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”-Walt Disney

Photo by Sherry Boswell

Fittingly, Randy has a Disney memorial plaque (shaped like a leaf) located in front of the Mad Tea Party. Just like our favorite attractions, this has become a “must-see” location for us (despite the fact that it always makes me well up with tears and I have a mascara mess). I cry tears of sadness AND joy. Certainly because of the untimely death of a devoted husband and father of three. The loss of a man who inspired so many. But also with awe and respect. Randy never gave up. He didn’t just scale those brick walls, he took a wrecking ball to them. Walt would have been so proud.

Thanks, Randy.

Contributed by: Sherry Boswell (NDM#393) Sherry is the DDL Fine Arts Blogger. She is also the creator of Music to My Ears.

Sherry B. (NDM#393)

Sherry’s an unashamed Disneyaholic! Her earliest memories of Disney World include meeting Mickey and Minnie aboard the Empress Lilly Steamboat (now Fulton’s Crab House), the luau (complete with shell lei), and of course, Hoop de Doo! She has specialized in DisneyWorld experiences, ranging from childhood, teenager, college, newlywed, and mom. (Though she wishes she had been more persistent that her friends go with her to Disneyland Paris!) Interesting factoids: her dog’s real name is “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (Cali for short) and she is still pinching herself from her stay in Bay Lake Tower’s Grand Villa. (Second only to the Castle Suite, no doubt!) But don’t tell the kids about THAT one: Sherry and hubby Clay snuck away for a “grownups only” trip to the World and finally checked something off her bucket list: the Keys to the Kingdom tour and seeing the Utilidors. Best. Day. Ever!

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