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Don Your Cape

Keeping with AQHYA's "Be Somebody's Superhero" theme, Tom Persechino shares insight on how to be a hero in the horse community.

By Tom Persechino, AQHA executive director of competition and breed integrity
The American Quarter Horse Journal
August 7, 2013

AQHA's Tom Persechino dons a cape to give a superhero speech at the AQHYA YES conference

Tom Persechino dons a cape as he inspires YES conference attendees to "Be Somebody's Superhero." (Journal photo)

Editor's note: This column originally appeared as the Inside Look in the August American Quarter Horse Journal.

When I was a kid, my brother would jump off two partial brick walls in front of our house. I, on the other hand, was too scared to jump off the walls. Then, my mother fashioned a superhero cape for me out of a bath towel. And much to her chagrin, that cape gave me the power to not only jump off those walls, but to eventually jump off the roof of the house. People find strength in the strangest things.

I shared this story at the 2013 Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar in June in Amarillo. The conference’s theme was “Be Somebody’s Superhero.”    

Even though we associate superheroes with the stories comic books, those characters still say and do things that inspire us.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

That’s a quote from Spiderman. To me, it means that even though you don’t have the superhero cape, you likely have great power – especially in the eyes of others. People look at you as a leader – be it in AQHYA, your church or just in the community. Use that power responsibly, do the right thing and give that gift of learning from you. People are going to believe in you and be inspired by you, and as a leader, you have great responsibility.

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”

That’s from Batman. In real life, you’re gonna fall or even fail. Superheroes pick themselves up and keep going.

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

The lesson here from Ironman is that people are always going to criticize you and what you do. Superheroes keep on doing, despite the criticism.

Comic books aren’t the only place where superheroes live as super-beings with super powers. Superheroes walk among us mere mortals every day.

“If not us, who? If not now, when?”

John F. Kennedy asked this at a time when it seemed the world was falling apart. We need to act. Now.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Walt Disney pursued his dreams and developed a Magical Kingdom, and in doing so, he encouraged all of us to have the courage to pursue our dreams.

“That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.”

Abe Lincoln proved that if just one person is successful, the door is open for every one of us to be successful. To me, that means that the “success club” is not restricted to just one person.

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

In many ways, Michael Jordan’s ability to jump higher and shoot better than any other basketball player of his time underscores how important it is to not stop when you hit that wall … and there are always going to be walls and obstacles in our lives.  

“Never tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”

I’ve heard this quote attributed to the very man who first put footprints on the moon – Neil Armstrong. And even if he didn’t say it, he proved that the sky, in fact, is not the limit.

"A new journey to be started. A new promise to be fulfilled. A new page to be written. Go forth unto this waiting world with pen in hand, all you young scribes, the open book awaits. Be creative. Be adventurous. Be original. And above all else, be young. For youth is your greatest weapon, your greatest tool. Use it wisely!”

And that – the quote of all quotes for our youthful AQHYA members – is from Wonder Woman (leave it to a superheroine to hit the nail on the head!).

My real hope is that our youth use whatever superhero cape they have to get out and make their mark – in life and on our Association. Who knows where our next great superhero might be. I like to think I was looking him or her in the eye at the YES conference.