The Book
(Ten Things I Learned From Bill Porter)

"Bill Porter's led a stand up, formidable life, against some formidable odds."
- William H. Macy

If you're like most folks, you probably pick up household supplies and sundries at the local super market, perhaps even on your way home from a harried day at the office. After Hearing Bill Porter's story you may rethink these and other aspects of your life - aspects that many of us take for granted.

When introducing a segment on Bill Porter's life, ABC's 20/20 host Hugh Downs said, "This is a simple story about a simply remarkable man." Born with cerebral palsy, Bill was told by many that he was unemployable. With the continual support of a dedicated mother and the indomitable spirit that is his trademark, Bill Porter has supported himself for decades selling household products door to door for the Watkins Company. While the people on his route didn't always need what Bill was selling, they grew to understand that we all need people like Bill Porter in the world.

Bill had refused to let cerebral palsy stop him from supporting himself financially or rob him of his dignity. Whether it is finding cooperative bellmen at the hotel down town to button his cuffs and tie his shoes or beaming a video to his speaking engagements because of ill-health, Bill gets the job done. And does it all with a smile and a wave and without one moment of doubt or self-pity.

Ten Things I Learned From Bill Porter is written by a woman who first worked for Bill as a typist and a driver to deliver his orders and who later became a friend and co-speaker with him. Through simple yet moving life lessons, Shelly Brady tells the story of Bill's life and the valuable lessons she learned from him. The "ten things" included "Mother Knows Best," "Be a Team Player," "Persistence Pays Off," "Don't Take No for an Answer," and "Know Your Limits and Reach Beyond Them."

These lessons may sound simple, but told through the life and experiences of a man authorities would have sent to an institution and who could have lived on disability all his life, they become powerful beacons to those of us with fewer obstacles, perhaps, but more resistance to living fully.

Bill Porter graduated from high school at the age of 22, having to first go through a special school for the disabled, even though his disabilities are physical, not mental. Rather than receive disability assistance from the state, he sought a job and eventually was hired by the Watkins Company, as a door to door salesman. He agreed to be compensated entirely on commission and took on a territory no one wanted in order to close the deal. Bill went on to become the top grossing salesman in Portland, the Northwest, and the U.S.

On Sunday, July 14, 2002, TNT will air its original film DOOR TO DOOR, based on the story of Bill Porter's life. DOOR TO DOOR stars Academy Award®-nominated actor William H. Macy as Bill Porter, Kyra Sedgwick as Shelly Brady and Academy Award®-nominated actress Helen Mirren as Bill's devoted mother.

The book includes photos of Bill growing up and copies of the many heartfelt letters and emails he receives from those who have heard his story. New World Library is also donating a portion of the proceeds from the book to the United Cerebral Palsy Association's Oregon and Southwest Washington Chapter. Founded in 1949, UCP is a nationwide network of more than 114 statewide and local not-for-profit agencies (UCP affiliates) in 41 states that provide programs and services and conduct public and professional education programs relevant to cerebral palsy and the other disabilities. To purchase Ten Things I Learned From Bill Porter, go to

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