Overcoming tough times

An area businessman and radio personality recently visited a local school this week to talk about a book the students were reading.

But the man didn’t just talk about the book, he related it to his own life in an effort to let the students know they always need to stay positive and have the strength to get through tough times in life.

Wapakoneta Middle School seventh-grade language arts teacher, Karen Quatman, invited Tim DeHaven to speak to the students. DeHaven is the owner of DeHaven Home and Garden Showplace in Lima and Findlay and is a seventh- and eighth-grade football coach, and cross country coach.

DeHaven visited to talk about the book “Zebra” by Chaim Potok, which the students recently read. The book deals inner and outer healing, and overcoming obstacles.

“We all have things in our life we have to deal with,” DeHaven said to the students in the Wapakoneta Middle School auditorium, as he displayed two prosthetic legs to the side of the podium.

DeHaven considers himself an active person, and at this time last year, he went into the hospital to have a heart procedure and what was thought to be a three-day stay there. It turned out to be a three-month stay.

“I ran three miles on Sept. 6 and went to hospital on Sept. 7,” DeHaven explained to the seventh-graders. “It wasn’t until Dec. 13 until I got out. I lost my leg and two fingers.”

He also lost all the toes on his right foot and some of his fingertips, along with dealing with a hole in his heart.

DeHaven’s physicians told him he had a 20 percent chance of living. He shared that he had been unconscious for approximately 17 days during those three months in the hospital.

“I’ve always been so active,” DeHaven said, “but now, I was so weak, like Zebra.”

Zebra also was dealing with injury in the book, along with other hard times. Zebra became unhappy, and so was DeHaven.

“I loved the wind sweeping across my face, and now I could not even bend my fingers,” DeHaven said.

DeHaven said he just laid there in the hospital bed, and people had to do things for him. It was a weird feeling for him.

But one thing that helped him get through this was to make little goals for himself.

When DeHaven got out of the hospital, he went through a series of prosthetic legs, and during his healing process, he could not do all the things he use to do before.

“You just got to kick things out of the way (that you can’t do), and focus on what you can do,” DeHaven said. “You can’t control everything, just certain things.”

One thing that had helped Zebra in the book was that he found a friend to help him through his difficult time.

“Zebra found a friend, and maybe that’s what you could do — be a good friend to someone,” DeHaven told the seventh-graders.

Lots of people go through tough times, but you just have to get through them, DeHaven noted.

“You have to be positive,” DeHaven said. “Bad things happen, and it takes a lot of inner strength and support of family and friends.”

But most importantly, DeHaven told the students to stay positive.

Seventh-grader Lauren Snider said that she enjoyed DeHaven’s speech.

“I thought he was a really good person,” Snider said.

Claire Peterman also learned a lot through the speaker.    

“It was cool,” Peterman said. “I learned that if something ever happens, don’t give up.”

“If I would lose a leg, it would be hard to keep going,” Peterman said. “But he still wanted to.”

Chloe Pyles agreed and said he was a cool person.

“If something happens, you just have to keep on going.”