If you ask Chris Koch about his childhood, he’ll tell you that he has plenty of good memories.
“Life for me growing up was pretty good,” Koch said.
A positive perspective, but coming from someone who was born with no arms and no legs, this is not the type of answer most people would expect.
“There were challenges, don’t get me wrong,” he added, “but the support from family and friends definitely made life a lot easier.”
As an adult, Koch has maintained the same positive attitude.
His determination and self-confidence have helped him travel to new places, take on new challenges, and always come out smiling.
It’s this attitude that Koch will be bringing to the Stettler Board of Trade’s (SBOT) fifth annual women’s conference on Friday, April 28.
The message Koch will be sharing is that “If a guy with no arms and no legs can snowboard, surf, travel the world, or work on a farm, then anybody is capable as anything.”
Koch grew up in a small farming community south of Calgary, and developed a love of farming from an early age.
These days, he splits his time between farming, traveling and going on speaking tours.
“I love traveling and speaking and sharing my story, but I also love farming,” Koch said.
Speaking at women’s conferences is not new for Koch, and because of his unique perspective on life, he feels his message will resonate well with the women in the audience.
“Being confident in yourself is a universal message,” Koch explained. “There’s a lot of pressure on women to look a certain way,” he said, adding that he is no stranger to body image and self-esteem issues himself.
“It would be easy to look at myself and say I don’t look normal,” he commented.
Rather than stay out of the spotlight, however, Koch has developed an attitude of taking life head-on.
“When people stare, it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “If someone stares at me, that’s their problem, not mine.”
For Koch, body image is a roadblock that prevents people from fully enjoying life.
“If you’re worried about how you look, you’re cheating yourself out of opportunities,” he added.
Going through life without arms or legs presents some significant physical challenges, but for Koch, the real challenge is a mental one.
“The physical side of it is not the hard part,” he said.
Part of the way he deals with this challenge is through humour.
“I jokingly tell people I have a disarming personality,” Koch said. “Whenever you can take your situation and put on funny twist on it, it helps you get over it and not take things so seriously.”
Koch’s story fits in well with the “Inspire” theme of this year’s conference, but his inspiration doesn’t just come from telling his life story.
“I want to be the one leading by example,” Koch commented.
Last month, Koch completed a Marathon in Modesto, California, and in May, he will be taking part in an ultra-marathon in Calgary.
He also climbed the CN Tower recently as a way to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
This is all part of Koch’s effort to keep pushing himself, something he will be imparting to the women at the conference as well.
“We get into our routine and everything’s safe and easy, and I think we need to step out of that comfort zone and push ourselves and remind ourselves how capable and resilient we are,” he added.