LaMondre Pough is the prime example of someone achieving their full potential despite life’s adversities. Dressed in his finest suit he said, “Live big, live full and live authentic. These are the words I live by to help me get through each day.”
At a young age, Pough was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy type 2, a neuromuscular disease that affects the nerve cells that control our voluntary muscles. Pough said, “Disability is a defining point but is not the defining point of who I am. I am an entrepreneur, I’m a friend, I have been a husband, I have been all these different things and disability is a very small part of who I am.” Pough does not want to be pitied for his disabilities. He instead chooses to live his life with purpose and help others do the same.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association has been a large part of Pough’s life. The MDA is a nonprofit that combats neuromuscular disorders by funding research, providing medical services, and educating health professionals and the general public.
Over the years, Pough has been involved with many fundraising and charity events. But, one event in particular never sat well with Pough. Created in 1966, the MDA Labor Day Telethon graced the screens of televisions across the country. Pough remembers every year seeing the event and feeling sadness instead of joy. Pough said, “I believe some of the residual effect of the telethon put an image of pity out there for people with neuromuscular disorders. Their mantra was, please give because we don’t want another child to be born like Timmy. But I am Timmy and I’m here, and I have a pretty good life.”
Pough did not think bringing disabled children into the spotlight was the answer. Robert Watts, MDA’s executive director, said he understood where Pough was coming from. Watts said, “I think MDA has grown as an organization to empower our patients instead of using their image to receive more donations.” Pough has since made it his life goal to touch as many people as he can with his message.
Pough has dedicated his life to helping people live with purpose through motivational speaking. He has had the opportunity to speak at hundreds of events, including trade shows, conventions, businesses and nonprofits. He is often called upon by organizations who need messages of encouragement and empowerment.
In 2019, he has done three speaking engagements and hopes to get to 20 by the end of the year. Katie Holloway, development specialist for MDA, has known Pough for several years now. Holloway said, “Usually when he speaks to a crowd, I am standing behind him or holding a microphone next to him. My favorite part of his speech is watching the messaging click with the audience.” Currently, Pough is working to create a podcast called “Walking on Purpose.” His goals include interviewing leaders in industry, entrepreneurs, thought leaders or entertainers that are also living their lives on purpose.
Pough’s positive outlook on life was not made all on his own, but instead was instilled in him from a young age. Pough was raised by a single teenage parent along with his older sister. He describes his mom as open-minded, outgoing, passionate and a devoted Christian. “My momma always told me the world will treat you the way you teach them to treat you,” Pough said. Things that others saw as deficits, Pough’s mother made him feel great about. She taught him and his sister self-reliance and the importantance of family. Growing up in such a nurturing environment showed him that he had value despite his disabilities. Betti Pough said, “I was raised by my parents this way, so I felt it was only right to do the same for my children.”
Although he has lived his life with purpose and dignity Pough says, “There is still a world out there that will beat the hell out of you.” A simple conversation he had with his Uncle became a major turning point in his life. At 14, Pough was sitting at church with his uncle waiting for Bible study to begin. He looked up to his uncle and said he was a “giant” in his eyes despite standing at only 5 feet 5 inches. Pough often confided in his uncle about his experience with bullying at school. Pough said, “He told me that my disability is not my problem, if it’s anybody’s problem its God’s problem. What I need to do is find out my purpose and live on that, find out what it is God wants me to do and do it.” Pough was taken aback by his uncle’s response because it was the first time someone outside of his immediate family validated who he was. He said, “That conversation changed my life.”
“There are several important things I want people to know about me,” Pough said, “First, I am a spiritual person. As a Christian, I believe nothing God created is purposeless. Our job is to live in that purpose. The second thing,” he said, “is that I want people to know that within them is the power to achieve anything.” He went on, “So often we get caught up in our deficits and the things we lack, but even in our short-comings we are still pretty awesome.”
The third, and most important point according to Pough, is he wants others to understand is where their inspiration stems from. “I hope that people are inspired not because I am person with spinal muscular atrophy but because there is light that I shine that when it reflects off of them, they see the greatness in themselves.”