Sunday, August 5, 2007

Yeah, I Got It Tough

The next time I get into a "poor pitiful me" mood I'm going to remember this guy.

Hajric lost his sight while on duty during a mine explosion in 1993. He was 26.

Chess has been a tradition in his family and before the accident he was a frequent player. After he became blind he lost the drive to play. It was a good friend who was able to bring his motivation back.

"I didn't believe in myself," he said "He told me 'You got to try.' And I really tried. I did very well. He believed in me."

His family came to the Untied States in December 2000. Since he has been in the country, he participated in a string of tournaments. In 2002, he competed and won the New York State Chess Championship, playing against people with sight. Also, in 2005 he placed third in the United States Blind Chess Championship.

Now 39, Hajric not only excels at chess, but he works and cares for his 6-year-old son who is disabled. His son is in a wheelchair and Hajric sometimes has to carry him down a set of stairs when leaving the house.

Lets run down the challenges Mr. Hajric has in his life:

1. Veteran of one of the most god-awful conflicts in history.
2. Blinded in the prime of life by a mine.
3. Leaves his homeland and travels thousands of miles to start a new life.
4. Cares for a disabled son.

And he not only deals with all those challenges, but kicks ass in one of the most competitive games in the world. Most native-born Americans, myself included, would have just given up.