I "met" Spann Cordle online and I was immediately taken with his positive, upbeat, go-getter attitude.
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, Cordle has an astonishing background and an even MORE impressive outlook for a bigger and brighter future.
He has an under graduate degree in political science, and criminal justice and graduate work in criminal justice and public administration.
A greeter at a Walmart store in Griffin Georgia, he has aspirations of moving from the sales floor to corporate Walmart.
Cordle, 55, started with the retail giant in 2007 in Summerville Ga as a greeter, then was promoted to sales associate in the connection center. In 2008 he was ask by then store manager Jeremy Lightsey if he would like to attend the annual shareholders meeting in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Upon his return, Spann soon got a call from SAM's Club asking if he and his service dog Finn would be interested in being featured in a promotional video on service animals. A film crew came from St. Louis to shoot the 2 minute video
In February 2009, Spann and Finn flew to Kansas City for SAM's yearly meeting where the video was shown- the associate and dog got 3 standing ovations.
In Nov 2009, Cordle was featured in an article for Disaboom.com for Walmart.
May of 2010, "Careers and the Disabled" named him employee of the year representing Walmart.
In October 2010, Spann and Finn were featured on cover of Walmart World Magazine.
Cordle has nothing but praise for the company, and feels he can do more to be an asset.
He wants to move to the Walmart Arkansas Corporate office to offer his continued contributions.
Spann has been hoping and working on his dream of corporate after his trip to the shareholders meeting. He says it has almost become a 24/7 goal to reach in order to show others disabled and non-disabled that if you want something badly enough -and work for it and are determined- it can happen.
Cordle hopes to gain a position with more impact should he lucky enough to relocate and use his Abilities to help the company continue to grow.
About Spann's Service Dog and Companion, Finn
Is a ten year old Labrador mix, born and raised in Nebraska. He got Finn in December 2005 from a private training facility Canine Specialty Training in Independence Mo.
Back in 2004, Spann watched a segment on "Animal Planet" on service animals and began research that night, e-mailing anyone and everyone to learn more.
About a year later, he got an email from Susan Bass, Director of K-9 specialty training in Independence Missouri, asking if he would be willing to come to Missouri and meet her to talk to about Service Animals.
He got some pretty tough questions about how severe muscle cerebral palsy was day to day, his activities and what he needed the dog to be able to do. Finn is a mobility service animal which means he can pull Spann's wheelchair by using a harness. Says Spann: " I guide his moves by moving my hand to the left or to the right. He can pull my chair much faster than I can roll it -not to mention saving wear and tear on my joints. Finn is fluent in 80 different commands- he can open and close doors, turn lights on and off, take clothes out of the washer put them in the dryer, take them from the dryer and put them in a basket- then pull that basket wherever I need."
When I asked Spann about his future plans, he replied "What I really want to do for Walmart is represent the company. I want to travel and speak to groups partnered and non-partnered with Walmart to tell them what the company has helped me do and that others can do the same. Walmart is global in 28 different countries- there are a lot of disabled people to talk to. Walmart has it's own ADA dept. It has a Vice President - I'd be a great executive assistant director!"
He continued: "Years ago my father who died when I was 14 of colon cancer told me one day I'd be grown and would need a job where I could use my mind because I wouldn't be able to dig ditches or do manual labor. So I got an education my mother saw to it!"
In Spann's Own Words
From His Website: Spann'sWorld- Life with a Service Dog: Inspiration for living with a service dog
"I have a lot of experiences growing up with Cerebral Palsy, training and working with my service dog, and living out and about town. It's my mission to help others,individuals and organizations to bring education,inspiration about how to incorporate inclusion in their lives!
Over the years, I've worked at Walmart in their electronics department and as a greeter. At Walmart, I not only work but have the opportunity to meet many people who inquire about Finn, my service dog. They see us working and it provides a way to educate others about the importance of employment and disability as well as the importance of including people with disabilities in our communities.
Finn and I never have a dull moment. Together, we've lived a full life, and each day is met with new challenges, successes and adventures.
I hope to share with you my own story, advice to motivate you on your own journey and ways to become a more inclusive community. In addition, I'm excited to be speaking and offering disability training local community based organizations and companies."
What does the future hold for Spann and Finn?
As you can see, Spann's aspirations seemingly have no bounds: moving from Georgia to Arkansas to Walmart Corporate to have an even bigger impact as a spokesperson for Americans With Disabilities and educating people about the wonders of service animals. Making it more acceptable and common place for employers of every description to hire "handi- Capable" people in all walks of life to limitless positions.
What else? Says Spann "I have admired Sarah Palin since she burst on the scene as the 2008 Vice Presidential Candidate. I would love to travel to Alaska and make sure Walmarts and other retailers fully understand and appreciate what "disabled" people have to offer."
To show how far we have moved as a society in regard to how view "handicapped people with disabilities," this writer has included a rare piece of video footage, featuring President Franklin D. Roosevelt- and the lengths he and the press went to cover-up the fact that he was in a wheelchair as a victim of polio.
As Scott Hamilton said: "The only disability is a bad attitude."
Spann Cordle is a shining example of what a GOOD attitude can do for EVERYONE.
Please follow Harriet on Twitter: @HarrietBaldwin.
As always, please feel free to share your thoughts on this article in the Comments Section below.