Everyday thousands of children receive their first bicycle.
For some it is expected, for others it is a rite of passage,
others take the moment for granted and then there are
those who find the gravity of the moment so overwhelming
that it sends their life on a completely different course. Such
was the case of an orphaned child from New York City.
Nathaniel Williams was born into dire circumstances, one
of eleven children he lost his mother to a cranial
aneurysm when he was just five years old. The traumatic
event would put a young Williams on a path towards a greater good.
When faced with such a tragedy many would buckle under the strain,
young Nat Williams found a way to stay positive and took a boy who may
have been lost in the system into a star of the system.
For thirteen years Williams was a guest of the New York City foster care
system. He spent his time in care when it was a darker time. There were
not the same rules and regulations that foster homes today must adhere to,
it was a time when the child was an afterthought. And so it was, Nat would
have to rise above his surroundings and all the negative forces working
As chance would have it, a young Nat found himself sitting alongside the
Head Sister at the group home he was residing. The two began talking, the
nun spoke of Nathaniel’s skills in school and Nat talked of how exciting having a bicycle could be. That conversation
would set in motion a course of events that would shape a man who would go on to shape the lives of thousands of men.
When Foster Focus sat down with Dr. Williams at his offices in Bethlehem, PA he spoke of the impact that day had on his
life. “Later that day she brought me a bike! I took that bike back to the cottage and my bunkmates and I played on that
bike until it was time to go inside.” As he relayed this story his eyes lit up with enthusiasm, though one could assume his
time in care was bleak and lonely, you can see this solitary event had an enormous positive impact on his life. “I learned
an important lesson that day, I learned that when you achieve a level of importance and influence you can make things
happen. It was not a bleak situation, with hard work I could have influence. The Sister and I only talked about having a
bike, and because she was in a position to do so, there was a bike. I spent the rest of the year referring to myself as the
The result of that day was a driven, positive and education focused young man with a thirst for success. When asked
about the stigma attached to being a foster youth and how it affected his upbringing, his response was positive (no
surprise), “There’s a sense that because you are in care you are not of value, that couldn’t be further from the truth, of
course you are valuable. Once you rise above that feeling there’s no limit to what you can do. You don’t need validation.”
If you read through the titles of his nine books you would think that the author had a life of leisure with little struggle.
Names like The Absolutes of Success, Attaining Your Personal Best and The Navigator of Life do not necessarily
evoke images of a troubled youth and a life of hard work. But meet the meet the man, hear the back story and the picture
Pointing the Way.
The impressive Climb of Dr.
|By Chris Chmielewski
Foster Focus Staff
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