Family connection, living in Ethiopia and spending a lot of time in the outdoors gave Nick Roussos the wonderful gift of having plenty of interesting stories to tell.
To share his storytelling gift, he’s worked hard to overcome the feeling of being disconnected. A man who loves to laugh and meet new people everywhere he goes, Nick expresses himself by writing children’s books or speaking to audiences using his Eco2 assistive device.
His message is all about encouraging people to go for their dreams no matter their circumstance.
“I love to spend time with children, and in the schools,” Nick said. “ I like to make people happy, and help them realize his or her potential.”
Awesome in Action
Through his book and speaking engagements, he developed a business called Awesome in Action.
Awesome in Action was named one day as he water-skied with a friend who’d never seen him ski before. Nick said his friend screamed, “‘Nick! You’re awesome in action!’
That was the beginning of it all (Read part one to learn about Nick’s outdoor adventures here).
His first venture as an entrepreneur was writing a children’s book. The book, Helping in Action, was inspired by his childhood in Ethiopia.
“I had a fun childhood…so I wrote a children’s story about it.”
Released June 2014, the main character is based on Nick, depicting a boy with cerebral palsy and his pet lion cub, Sandy.
A true story – back then – “I thought everyone had pet baby lions,” he said jokingly. “That is clearly not true in Loveland.”
Nick is getting ready to release his second book also inspired by his life in Ethiopia sometime this year. But getting out and talking to people is also just as important to him.
With the help of his job coaches, Nick has prepared different presentations for different audiences, using his Eco2. He likes being around kids best. Often he visits and talks about about the R word. Looking to inspire, Nick shows how he lives his life to the best of his abilities.
In front of an audience
Most recently, he gave a multimedia presentation at the Ted X Front Range event in Loveland, Colo.
Although he was nervous on stage, he said, “I love a good party! That experience was so exciting.”
“Whether adults or children, listening to a guy talk who cannot speak a word creates a bit of a stir,” he said.
Programmed into his Eco2 are one-word responses, or he uses made up signs that are reminders of what he’s thinking from stories about the past.
Audrey Hendricks is one of Nick’s job coaches who helps with all aspects of his business, including communication.
“A lot of the time, my job is to interpret information so that he understands, and then ask for his responses,” Audrey said.
Opening the eyes of many to show a way they’ve never seen before, Nick and Audrey found that both kids and adults respond to him similarly. They’re hesitant at first.
Then “They want to touch my speech device and make it talk, and they want to use the joy stick on my chair,” he said.
Whether it’s through his book or through his presentations, Nick hopes every audience knows that he’s a cool guy who leads a good life.
“I hope they learn that we do not have to be limited by our circumstances, even if you ride around in a flaming hot-rod wheelchair.”
Find out what “crazy things” Nick is up to or purchase his book here.