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Never give up. Each of us starts out in this game of life being dealt a certain hand. It is then up to us to decide how we will play our cards and deal with the unavoidable obstacles that will continually try to knock us down. While there may be times when it would be easier to just throw up our hands and give up, sticking it out and giving it our all can lead us to greater rewards than we could ever imagine.

As a young girl I was diagnosed with a muscular affliction that prevented me from doing many of the typical childhood activities. I spent many days sitting inside my family’s apartment watching other kids do the things I wished I could do. People frequently called me names and bullied me around back then.

One particular instance has always stuck with me. Walking home from school one day, I was followed by a group of kids who were taunting and throwing things at me. When I got inside my apartment building I turned to them and yelled, “Someday I’m going to be so famous, you will never be able to touch me!”

It was not only these bullying children but also the doctors and adults who told me that I would never be able to make anything of myself. Being told that I “couldn’t” so many times ended up serving as my motivation to tell myself I “could.” This criticism served to be some of the best motivation to working through the physical and mental obstacles I was faced with. One of the greatest rewards of overcoming an obstacle is being able to go back to all those naysayers and prove that you are, in fact, something.

The greatest piece of advice that I could give anyone is don’t be afraid to try. You never know what you are actually capable of until you at least give yourself the chance to prove yourself, and everyone else, wrong. Even if you don’t succeed, you can still walk away from the situation knowing that you at least gave it your best.

Once I decided to prove all the bullies and pessimists wrong, I realized that I wanted to be involved with the entertainment industry. I had always been fascinated by movie stars and singers – especially Eddie Fisher. I knew that I had to do everything I could to meet him, so I decided to go to Manhattan and while I was there, talked myself into organizing the International Eddie Fisher fan clubs. Since my mother had to carry me up the stairs from the subway to street level, I had never travelled the route by myself. This was my first trip to Manhattan all on my own at the age of 13 (and one my parents did not know about). What was normally a 10-15 minute long trip from Queens to Manhattan, took me 2 1/2 hours to get there that day. I had to take every stair step by step and rest after every few. When I finally got to the top of the stairs I realized that even in just this one trip I had physically overcome more than I had ever thought I would. It was so empowering!

When it comes to the obstacles in life, it may seem like there is little that we can control ourselves. The secret to success in so many aspects is to look at these obstacles as challenges that will make our victory so much sweeter in the end. Don’t be afraid to try – you never know what you are capable of until you do.

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Rona Barrett was born in Manhattan. Starting in show business at an early age, she was 13 when she became the nationwide coordinator of singer Eddie Fisher’s fan clubs, and even got a surprise visit from singer Steve Lawrence at her 16th birthday party. She majored in pre-law at college until her uncle, a judge, advised her to switch to journalism.

Rona became an entertainment columnist for the Bell-McClure newspaper syndicate in 1957. In 1966, she began broadcasting Hollywood entertainment news on the Los Angeles television station KABC-TV. She appeared on TV regularly, going on to appear on ABC’s 5 owned and operated stations around the country. She developed the first in-depth personal TV specials about the celebrities of motion pictures, television, music, sports and politics, and had a series of magazines on the entertainment industry that were top-rated at newsstands, including Rona Barrett’s Hollywood. As such, she paved the way for many entertainment reporters who followed in her footsteps.

Rona penned several books including an autobiography, Miss Rona, which was published in 1974. Rona began appearing on Good Morning America in 1975. She was signed in 1980 to co-host NBC’s Tomorrow. In 1986, she bought a ranch in Santa Ynez, California, and began commuting back and forth to Los Angeles. In 1991, she retired full-time to her ranch, where she began planting fields of lavender and began her philanthropic endeavors.

In 2000, Rona created The Rona Barrett Foundation, a non-profit organization, which develops and supports affordable housing as well as related services and care to Seniors in Need. The Foundation also educates and advocates on behalf of a rapidly growing senior population.

The Rona Barrett Foundation is in the process of raising funds to build a pilot living facility called The Golden Inn & Cottages, which will serve as a model for similar housing across the country.

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