People who are physically challenged are sometimes wrongly regarded by some as not being able to contribute to society in any meaningful way because of their disability, but there are many whose strength of character and will to overcome all odds, have done more than just prove they can equal the efforts of our best not physically challenged community members.
Many have achieved more, much more. It appears that as long as the person has the passion and spark for life, the achievements of that person can become unbelievably outstanding as many of the following ten inspirational stories attest to. Besides being inspirational to other physically challenged people they are equally inspirational to those of us who feel we are unable to make a difference and give up trying when the obstacles we face are minuscule compared to what these people have had to overcome.
When Jean-Dominique Bauby, former French journalist, and editor of the famous fashion magazine ‘Elle’, suffered a massive heart attack which resulted in him being left with Locked-in Syndrome, he never gave up.
Locked-in Syndrome is a neurological disorder that leaves the body paralysed from head to toe despite the mind being left intact. Bauby discovered that he could blink his left eyelid and that was all he needed to write a book. He wrote his book ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ by blinking his left eye when a person reading out letters from the alphabet spoke the correct letter. He died two days after the book was published.
Rick Hoyt was born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy and his parents were advised to have him institutionalised because of his prognosis which offered no hope of him every recovering.
Because of his parents, Dick and Judy’s, refusal to accept such advice they kept him with them and brought him up. Today Rick has grown and competes in marathons and triathlons throughout America with his father’s assistance.
Alan Marshall contracted polio at only six years of age. This saw him hospitalised for 18 months while his right leg withered away and was finally amputated. Alan spent the remainder of his childhood in calipers and on crutches but this didn’t stop him from riding horses and climbing hills with his young mates.
He finally became a famous author after he wrote a best seller, ‘I Can jump Puddles’ that depicted his childhood experiences. As a result he wrote thousands of letters to physically challenged Australian children encouraging them to always follow their dreams.
Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born into poverty in Ghana. On top of this he had a right leg that was completely non functioning. He was abandoned by his father and not long after orphaned when his mother died. To make matters worse Ghana society traditionally treats such deformities as being a curse and it looked like his only life was to become a street beggar.
Emmanuel would not accept this. He decided to ride a bicycle, by pushing with his one good leg, around Ghana, bringing awareness to people who disabled people could still achieve physical feats. After travelling 400 miles he became the subject of a documentary and received a new leg. It is estimated that up to now he has transformed the lives of two million people who live with a disability in Ghana.
Helen Adams Keller
Helen Adams Keller proved to the world that even if you are both deaf and blind you can still earn yourself a Bachelor of Arts degree. Helen became an author and activist. She campaigned for women’s suffrage, socialism and workers rights and became one of the founders of the American, Civil Liberties Union. She travelled widely around the world and became highly regarded in high places by prominent leaders.
Marla Runyan became blind when she was nine years old. But that didn’t stop her from becoming a champion athlete. She was the American national 5,000 meters champion on three occasions, and won four gold medals in the 1992 Paralympics. She is also a successful marathon and heptathlon competitor.
Christy Brown started life with nothing whatsoever going for him apart from the untiring love and faith of his mother. His mother had 13 children and when Christy arrived with cerebral palsy it was found he was unable to make any deliberate movement of his own or to speak.
Doctors also told his parents that he was intellectually disabled. Thankfully his mother never gave up on him and continued to speak with him and never stopped trying to teach him.
When he was about five his left foot started responding to his will. This meant he was able to communicate with others at last. Christy ultimately became famous when he published his book ‘My Left Foot.’ It was later made into a film and is now regarded as being an important Irish novel.
Sudha Chandran is a famous Indian dancer, who has also obtained a Masters in Economics. She suffered the amputation of her right leg following an accident when travelling between Mumbai and Chennai in India. She received an artificial leg which allowed her to become one of the most accomplished dancers in India. She now performs all over the world and has appeared in films and television shows.
Frida Kahlo was stricken with polio and spina bifida when only six years old, which affected her spinal and leg development. She eventually managed to walk despite having a right leg much thinner than her left leg. She also had to experience periods of extreme pain that lasted throughout her life. The pain often being so intense that she would be hospitalised for months on end. Frida still managed to become one of Mexico’s greatest painters and become the first Mexican artist to have her work purchased by an international museum in the 20th century.
Ludwig Van Beethoven
Beethoven is proof that despite being deaf you can still compose great music, that is if you have the brain of Beethoven. He performed before the public for the first time playing a piano when he was only eight years old.
He went on to study music in Vienna under Mozart and by the time he was in his middle twenties he was regarded as a great pianist. However while at his peak he started losing his hearing but instead of giving up he worked harder. As a result he wrote some of the best music ever composed while completely deaf.