District 30 speaker pushes students to have high goals
Imagination Theater Performance group member Dimokratia Michalopoulos reacts to a suggestion by Snowflake participant 13-year-old Ben Cachpav, during a skit Cachpav was acting out concerning body image. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:47AM
GLENVIEW — Motivational speaker Lloyd Bachrach pulled the oldest stage trick March 1 in front of an audience.
He dropped his pants and it worked — he locked in the attention of 200 students, teachers and parents.
Born in 1962 with missing leg bones made him unusually short, but Bachrach now walks with artificial legs, showing them to all.
“My real legs fill inside these artificial ones,” said the likeable Bachrach, a frequent main speaker at the Snowflake Day for School District 30 students in Glenview and Northbrook.
“I have total control,” he said strolling across the across the stage at Park Center.
Later, he did hand stands and raced across the floor on all fours, demonstrating stealing bases on little league teams he played for.
His main message for young was overcoming hard times.
Students spent the day learning about building better peer relations and promoting good decision-making and responsibility.
They met in small groups working with adults on team-building activities and self-esteem through discussion and role-playing.
Lynn Reimer, a district physical education teacher at Maple School, said the Snowflake program also covered substance abuse and bullying.
“This is our 28th year doing this. We used to concentrate on drugs and alcohol, but that changed three years ago when we focused on other areas, too,” she said.
Bachrach’s presentation hit on his five “Keys to Success” that he relied on over the years.
They were maintaining self-esteem, building positive attitude, taking care of one’s health, setting high goals and persevering.
Bachrach’s life was a solid example of each.
Before wearing artificial legs, he was a foot shorter than his classmates and friends.
“I was teased, picked on and pointed at because I was different,” said Bachrach, a 1980 graduate of Thornridge High School in south suburban Dalton.
Overcoming that peer pressure, he credited his parents and several “Dream makers,” such as athletic coaches.
“One doctor told my parents to put me in an institution and forget about me. He based his decision on one thing — my body — not my soul.”
“My parents wanted me home and got another doctor who said, ‘Lloyd will figure out his own ways. Give him a chance,’” Bachrach said.
As a teenager, Bachrach excelled in gymnastics against other athletes without disabilities.
He won 25 gold, 27 silver and 20 bronze medals in competitions including the Prairie State Games, Chicago Park District Gymnastics on the Beach and the Midwest Open.
He also a member of the 1996 U.S. Paralympic Team and competed in sit volleyball in the 1996 Atlanta games, and was director of gymnastics for the Chicago Park District, Therapeutic Recreation Department for seven years.
“We have dream makers here today. Please give them a round of applause,” said Bachrach, referring to the adult facilitators who participated in Snowflake Day.
Seventh-grader Michael Factor said, “I was impressed by (Bachrach’s) overcoming so many obstacles. He showed that you can be the only one to stop yourself.”