An excerpt from the 2011 Theresa Awards Dinner Dance Letter from the President by Susan S. Russo


I work with “WINNERS” every day; so do Debi, Amy, Lindsay, Alice, Keyla, Elizabeth, Sara, Tatum, Lisa, Julie, and all of our wonderful volunteers who give their time, energy, and hearts to the students of TAPA.


Through working with these special children, we learn that winning cannot be attributed to change, genetics, age, gender, environment, upbringing, privilege, credentials, or experience alone.  No, winning doesn’t come from waiting for luck, magic or miracles to happen.  Instead, winners are those people who are willing to make mistakes, admit them, take responsibility, gave the music, learn the necessary lessons, and move on without the fear of making more mistakes.


What does it really take to be a winner?  Julia Marrocco, a professional coach and management consultant, has identifies five major characteristics that distinguishes winners from average achievers.


One: Discipline

Winner control their desires and appetites.  They control their emotions and their time, and they serious about their schedules.  They understand that time is more valuable than money.  They set aside time to study, time to read, and time to plan.


Two: Hunger for Knowledge

Winners and high achievers are hungry.  Like young children, they are always in learning mode.  They ask questions: how can we do this better?  What can we implement to make this job easier?  Complacency is not a disease winners get, even though the path of least resistance is often easier than making the changes necessary to move ahead.


Three: Enthusiasm

The most powerful part of a winner’s attitude is his or her enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm is the outward manifestation of our inner passion, our zeal for living.  Enthusiasm enables winners to keep going and is the magic that carries us beyond our current skills and talents.


Four: Personal Responsibility

Winners take responsibility.  They don’t blame someone else for their failures.  Instead, they learn from their mistakes and make better choices next time.  Rather than use their past as an excuse not to succeed, they make their past become a reason to succeed. 


Five: Commitment

Winners are committed.  Winning is hard, but it is supposed to be; otherwise, everybody would do it!  It is often easier to give up than to continue putting forth efforts when we’re not getting the results we want.  Winders are willing to keep forging ahead and doing whatever it takes.



The students at TAPA are winners because they demonstrate to us each and every day their discipline, hunger for knowledge, enthusiasm, personal responsibility, and commitment.  They teach us that winnings comes from knowing yourself and marching to the beat of your own drum.


In keeping with tonight’s theme, allow me to close with the story of Secretariat, the greatest Triple Crown winner to race and achieve what he was born to do.  When Secretariat was a newborn colt, his proud owner showed him to her father, exclaiming how big he was and sharing her expectations for his success.  Her father responded with great words of wisdom: “Let him run his own race”.  Sure enough, that’s just what he did and that is what we are all on this earth to do.  Chance, genetics, age, gender, environment, upbringing, privilege, credentials, and experience do not decide who the winners are.  Each of us does that for ourselves with a little discipline, hunger for knowledge, enthusiasm, personal responsibility, and commitment.  We’re all special and we can all be winners.


Just always remember to run your own race with wild abandon!
Peace and blessings,


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