Once upon a time…
… a King, a fairy, a far away land, or whatever other fantasy you can think of that lets you daydream about a wonderful and unreachable world.
And yet we are aware of a “true tale” with a “human” leading character who lives in the real world. It ‘s the story of Salvatore Cimmino who, without a limb, began to swim around all of Italy, then toured all of Europe, and is now swimming around the world to help disabled people and to raise awareness by the institutions towards those who require a prosthesis.
I heard Salvatore speaking in the press conference held on 22 April 2009 at the Circolo Canottieri Aniene, when he presented his message: <<nothing is denied to a disabled person and I believe in a world without barriers>>. I repeated it to my fifth grade pupils, among whom there was Alessandro Cimmino, the son of Salvatore.
I have rarely seen the children express their interest, astonishment, admiration, gratitude to those who know how to go beyond their own needs to help others, as on this occasion.
Here are some of their comments:
Salvatore, your achievement has taught me that one must be generous and courageous!
This is what I have understood: what counts in a man is his heart, his mind!
I really admire you because you live your life with strength and courage. When I need to feel strong, I think about you!
He taught me that everyone can make his wishes come true, as long as he strongly believes in them!
Dear Salvatore, always keep going, don’t ever change!
I realized that helping others is very important, and I thank you because you have taught me with your endeavours!
Now I know a man who doesn’t rely on his audacity or on his muscles, but on the strength of his heart!
Dear Salvatore, I admire you!
Your challenges are an important chapter in the history of the world.
Your story is unbelieveable, amazing, wonderful, excellent. Thanks!
Salvatore addressed my pupils with the following words:
<<Dear boys and girls of the fifth grade class, I have read your beautiful and moving letters which have made me truly happy. I’m not a hero, of course, I’m only someone who tries to do the right thing, in the best way possible. I really hope to help those in need and who cannot get along well by themselves. One thing I understood for sure, through your own words: if we as adults were capable of expressing your same values and feelings, this world would be a much nicer and easier place for everyone to live in.
While I swim, I usually think about all the beautiful things that have helped me to overcome my exhaustion. Now I can also think about you, and about how fortunate Alessandro is to grow with you around.
To me, your letters represent the highest honor I have ever received. Of this I thank you. Salvatore Cimmino>>.
After Europe comes America, after America comes… … How many more “strokes” are needed, Salvatore, to achieve the goal you keep in your heart: a “world without barriers”?