The Power of Positive Thinking

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By Kimberly Horg | Photos by Manny Espinoza

In one split moment, a freak accident changes everything: a small child in the wrong place at the wrong time sustaining major physical injuries from the blades of a lawn mower. Miraculously alive and well, Josh Best healed the majority of his wounds against all odds minus his right hand. Unscathed by the memory of the accident that took place at three years of age, functioning with one hand is life as he knows it, an advantage of youth’s resilience.

Josh maria

Josh Best and Maria Best

Mike and Maria Best raised their son with expectations, and never told him there was something he couldn’t do. Once fitted for a prosthetic, Best decided to find his own way to complete tasks using his elbow. Because many parents teach by example, the Bests taught themselves how to function with one hand to show their son. Simple tasks such as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would take 45 minutes but it didn’t discourage him. He was raised exactly the same as his older brother, Matt.

One of the biggest challenges growing up was his need to hide or stay behind the scenes; he recalls pulling his shirt sleeve down to avoid unwanted attention. “I never thought, ‘why did this happen’ or had anything to complain about, but as I became older, I became more comfortable in my own skin,” he says.

A sports enthusiast from day one, he excelled through adversity using his own techniques to hit a ball with one arm, launching a homerun out of the park when he was nine years old. This was the first of many crowd-pleasing moments by the upcoming athlete, from shooting baskets to receiving a black belt in karate. As Best got older, he naturally migrated towards soccer. Captain of his soccer team in high school, he was eventually recruited to play for State University New York Fredonia and soon became captain of the Blue Devils.

Role model to the other teammates, Best never cut corners during practice. If the other guys had to do push-ups, he would never say he couldn’t. The State University of New York Athletic Conference awarded Best with its 2014 Award of Valor. Though there were notable moments when he wanted to give up, nothing came close to what he had to face last year. After slipping and falling on ice, his much relied upon left wrist broke during his last year of college.

Usually an optimist, never feeling troubled or engulfing in self-pity, this was the first time in his life his mom saw him discouraged; she was unable to remember a single day he came home crying or feeling sorry for himself as a child. Despite this setback, Best managed to pick himself up, and with help from his coach, friends, and family, ended up only missing a couple weeks of school and graduating on time with a business degree.

“Focusing on what you can do, and not on what you can’t, is what determines your path; he is living proof of that,” says Maria. “He taught me more than what I taught him about life.”

On a quest to figure out the future, the Best brothers are on a “freedom tour” traveling the countryside and checking out national parks. Best aspires to use his degree to start a business with his sibling in the arena of sports rehabilitation. He also hopes to coach soccer one day. A personal goal is to give back to those in similar situations, whether it’s helping disabled veterans or children.

By Kimberly Horg | Photos by Manny Espinoza

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