WISCONSIN DELLS — Chris Koch said it doesn’t do him any good to feel sorry for himself, even though he was born without arms or legs.
“People ask me how it feels to not have arms and legs, and I tell them it feels pretty normal to me and that I was made this way for a reason,” Koch said Dec. 3 during his keynote address at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau state convention. “There is no sense wasting time and energy on something I can’t change. I am never going to have arms and legs.”
Koch, a native of Nanton, Alberta, Canada, has traveled across the world spreading his “If I Can” message. If he can do almost anything without arms and legs, than people who don’t have such a disability should be able to do even more, he maintains.
Koch spoke to about 1,000 people during the Sunday lunch program at the Farm Bureau convention.
Koch, who often drives a tractor or combine on his family’s farm in Canada, said he has always been fiercely independent, and has asked others to let him do things on his own rather than help him.
“People are always asking me if they can give me a hand,” he said. “But everything I do, I have figured out how to do on my own.”
It is during times when he struggles most that he learns the most, Koch said, and others could expect to do the same.
He uses humor when referring to his disability rather than feel sorry for himself, he said.
For example, he said his brother refers to him as his half-brother. He offered to give someone from the convention his wristband for the hotel water park — “If you have a wrist,” he said. He said when he first began taking solo trips around the world, he was worried that he would be a target of robbers.
“After all, I’m unarmed,” he said. “It would be a pretty easy getaway.”
He said within hours of when he was born, he grandmother was informed that his parents gave birth to a healthy baby boy, however, he was missing both arms and both legs.
“Without any hesitation whatsoever she simply pointed out the fact that my father never did finish anything he started,” Koch said.
Most people take life “way too seriously,” he said, or tend to let one bad experience ruin their day, week or life.
“Take it in stride and make the most of your life regardless of the situation,” he said. “I’m more afraid of regret than I am of failure. I don’t want to say I wish I would have tried that, or I wish I would have done that. I want to look back on life and say I did as much as I possibly could, and although not everything went my way, at least I tried.”
Koch has traveled to five continents on his own, towing a 35-pound backpack with his clothes and toiletries. He gets around most places on a longboard, with a boot attached to one of his stubs to give him the push he needs to move.
In fact, a couple of years ago he completed a 26-mile marathon riding his long board, he said.
Koch said he especially enjoys times when he can drive a combine or tractor on his family’s 3,500-acre farm, with his nephew riding along.
“There is something about farming — it gets in your blood system,” he said. “Riding with my nephew brings me the most joy in my life.”
The only accident he ever had while driving a farm implement was when he was harrowing for his grandfather and he clipped a power pole with the harrow.
“I turned an 80-foot harrow into a 60-foot harrow,” he said.
Koch said he uses the “If I Can” message to get across to people that “anything is possible” for people if they put their mind to it.
“We all have our struggles — we can make the most of it or we can make it our excuse,” he said.
With the New Year approaching, people should resolve to make the most of each and every day in 2018, Koch said.
“You have 365 days to take advantage of each and every day,” he said.
For more information about Chris Koch, visithttp://www.ifican.ca.