PITTSBURG — Medicalodges Pittsburg Resident Thomas Amberg doesn’t let his disability get him down.
He was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and is constrained to a wheelchair, but this doesn’t stop him from achieving his goal of uplifting others through poetry.
Amberg has had more surgeries than the number of his age — 31 surgeries, 15 of which were on his brain. He is 29 years old.
He shares his experience through poetry in his published book of Christian poems, “Rolling Inspired: Poetry Inspired by my Walk with God; From a Wheelchair.”
“From an early age my mom taught me to be self sufficient,” Amberg said. “She told me if I wanted to achieve something to go for it, don’t let my disability restrict what I can and cannot do.”
Not only is he writing poetry, but he is about to celebrate his one year anniversary with his wife Lori Yoakum-Amberg.
“We’re’ about to celebrate our one year,” he said. “It went by fast.”
Amberg started writing in high school and many of his poems reflected the anxiety of any other teenager and his experience as a student who was born with the condition he has. He said he stopped writing after a while as he wanted to be known for more uplifting and happier poems.
When he moved to Kansas about 10 years ago, he was challenged to write poems again — a Christian poem — which sparked his interest to start writing again and share his work with others.
He then produced the book, “Rolling Inspired: Poetry Inspired By My Walk With God; From A Wheelchair” and within the pages are stories about overcoming bullying, self-esteem and faith.
“It deals a lot with self-esteem,” Amberg said. “A poem called ‘Different’ talks about knowing from a young age that I was different, but it wasn’t until I got older when I realized different is beauty rather than ugliness.
“When a lot of people look at me and think, ‘oh that must be horrible’ I see it as another opportunity to impact other people.”
Amberg’s book is officially in the book store and online at Amazon, he has sold over 100 books in the past month. He said he is also in the process of having a book reading in a coffee shop and will have an event at the WalMart Neighborhood Market from 3 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 28 for a book sale and signing.
Amberg said he plans on donating the proceeds to his church, Faith Tabernacle in Weir, and so far has raised over $600 to help with it’s renovations.
Along with writing poetry, Amberg has been spending time volunteering at the hospital and leading bible studies.
Medicalodges Pittsburg Social Services Worker Cindy Nepote said he is always out, helping others through his volunteering.
“For him, it’s not about ‘how am I going to get through the day,’ it is ‘how am I going to help someone else,’” she said.
Amberg said his volunteering includes cheering people up with a deck of cards, coffee and giving someone to talk to.
“More times than not, there is always one or two that really need someone to talk to, needing spirits lifted up, and a lot of times the conversation will turn right to God, even before they know about my book or my religion,” he said. “We talk about how good he is.”
In the future Amberg said he plans on taking college classes in counseling or public speaking and he has already started on his next book.
Nepote said Amberg is an example of how the residents at Medicalodge can continue to pursue their life goals while receiving the care they need.
“At Medicalodge, we show you can come here and live and inspire, be productive and do what you want to do and continue to maintain life,” she said. “Most people look at a skilled facility as ‘this is where you at until you’re deceased’ — that is not the case at all.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.