McNary grad, double amputee celebrates release of memoir

As a double-amputee, Kacey McCallister has endured challenges of all kinds over the course of his life, and he has tackled them all with a fighting and resilient spirit that is rare to find. 

Now, he can add the challenge of writing a book to his list of incredible accomplishments.

The book is called When Life Gets You Down, RISE UP, and on April 1, McCallister’s finished product hit the shelves at Barnes & Noble.

“I wanted to share my life and my experiences, but more than anything, I wanted to influence people’s lives through this book,” McCallister said. “But the book really isn’t about me. It’s about what other people can do regardless of their circumstances and rising up when stuff gets hard.”

It’s hard to look at McCallister’s life and see it as nothing less than an inspiration. He lost his legs at the age of six after a car accident where he was ran over by a semi-truck. But despite being a double-amputee for the majority of his life, it never has stopped the former McNary athlete from living to the fullest.

In high school, McCallister won a district title in cross country and two district titles in wrestling. He also placed fourth at state in the 103-pound division.

In 2011, McCallister was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and was a recipient of the Medal of Courage — which is an honor presented annually to a wrestler or former wrestler who has overcome what appears to be insurmountable challenges and provides inspiration to others. 

But the 32-year old wasn’t done conquering the physical world quite yet. After successfully completing several marathons, McCallister decided to get into Spartan racing — which is a series of races that feature different obstacle courses that vary in length and difficulty.

Currently, McCallister works as a motivational speaker. However, about three years ago, McCallister wanted to embrace the challenge of writing a book.

McCallister was first encouraged to write a book as a teenager by his father. While McCallister acknowledged that writing has never been his strong suit, it wasn’t his biggest roadblock in creating his first book. 

“I was always a horrible writer, but my biggest challenge it writing this book was dealing with fear,” McCallister said. “I was so scared of writing this book because I’m pouring my heart and soul into this and I was afraid of people judging it and correcting it. So just getting past the block of being worried of what other people thought was really hard.”

While the term RISE UP is prominent on the cover of his book, it also serves as the name of McCallister’s motivational speaking business. But to him, it’s much more than an inspirational expression.  

“RISE UP is my motto. It’s my business, it’s on the side of my car, but it really is a testament to what I am asking people to try,” McCallister said. “The obstacles in our life can take us down and put us on our knees. Life has a way of knocking us down. But if we can use those obstacles as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks, then we can move forward.”

“And as we conquer those challenges in life, we’re going to be that much stronger for it.”

While much of McCallister’s life has been involved conquering the challenges in his life, he also acknowledged that a big theme of this book features him failing and how important failing is to him reaching his goals. 

“I’m all about failing. I love failing, because then it means that I know what I have to do to be better,” McCallister said. 

“I can’t even tell you how many instances in the book feature me failing, and then figuring out how to do it better.”

McCallister leads a very full life. Along with being an athlete, writer and speaker, he also has a wife, Jennifer, and five kids (Anna, 10, Alex, 9, Patrick, 8, Jack 5, and Declan, 2). But McCallister is always looking forward to next thing he can take on.

“I want to grab everything I can out of this life,” McCallister said. “Every day I wake up, I’m fighting for something. I want to see what I can do. I wanted to see if I could write a book and I did it.”

“I am always looking forward to my next challenge and my next goal.”