Josh Harding: NHL Star a True Inspiration After Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 12:  Josh Harding #37 of the Minnesota Wild makes a save against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on January 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 5-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Athletes are not supposed to be human. They are bigger, stronger, faster and obviously more athletic than, say, a person like me, who sits a keyboard all day typing words for the world to read. But every so often, we get reminded that even the most talented performers deal with adversity. 

Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, as revealed in an article by Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

According to WebMD, multiple sclerosis (MS) affects the brain and spinal cord, and symptoms include weakness, numbness and blurred vision. There is also no cure for the disease, though it does say that treatment can ease symptoms. 

As Harding, who is just 28 years old and signed a three-year contract with the Wild this summer, told Russo in the article, the disease is not going to change his outlook on life or the way he approaches each day. 

There's going to be some good days and bad days, but I think if you talk to anybody in life, there's going to be some good days and bad days.

Harding also talked about what his goals are moving forward, as well as the way he wants this particular chapter in his life to end. 

You can let it get you down for a bit, but you've got to move past it. I know what my overall goal is to be, and that's a No. 1 goalie of the Minnesota Wild and to win a Stanley Cup here. It would make me happy to overcome this. Not just overcome this, but to really succeed with it.

I don't want people treating me different, I don't want people feeling bad for me, I don't want people moping around. I want this to be a story where when we look back, it was a happy story.

For a 28-year-old athlete who has probably been the biggest and best player wherever he has gone until the point he was drafted, hearing you have a disease that can drastically alter your quality of life has to be a kick to the gut. 

But Harding's response to the whole situation is what we should all be taking away from this. He has a forum that so many other people diagnosed with MS don't have, because he is in an athlete's spotlight. 

There are athletes and celebrities all over the world who have served as an inspiration for one thing or another. Former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed making a tackle, has been able to stand up during therapy

Harding has been given a challenge to overcome. It's not going to be easy, no one thinks it will be, nor is he going to sugarcoat it as such, but if you have the right attitude and are able to put yourself out there to the world, good things might happen. 

It would be easy to cave in, break down, or whatever the usual response to a diagnosis like this would be. But Harding is giving everyone around him a reason to be optimistic. That is far more important than anything he could do as a goalie.