â€œDisability is not inabilityâ€ is an adage that most of us are familiar with. However, if youâ€™re not blind, deaf, an amputee, or suffering from a debilitating condition, you can never truly understand the struggles that people living with disability go through.Â
And in a society where we still treat people with disabilities as second-class citizens, itâ€™s tough for them to rise above their conditions and impact the world around them. Well, tell that to somebody who cares to listen!
The world is full of disabled people who broke the glass ceiling to achieve far beyond what most of us, the non-disabled, couldnâ€™t even dare to dream.
Read on for six success stories that prove that disability is only a state of mind.
A disabled sprinter
- Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking is a renowned scientist and physician whoâ€™s fondly remembered for his immense contribution to the concept of time. One of his most outstanding achievements was proving that the laws of physics must have begun much earlier on as the Big Bang. According to Time Magazine, Hawking played a significant role in advancing the black hole theory.
Itâ€™s inspiring to note that Stephen Hawking made these grand inventions and discoveries while battling with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
ALS is a motor neuron disease that kills the neurons responsible for voluntary muscle movements. The condition consigned Hawking to a fulltime power chair-user who could only speak with the aid of a computer. However, it never dampened his spirits and desire to explore the universe. One of his most famous works is A Brief History of Time that featured on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for 237 weeks.
- Frida Kahlo
â€˜An accomplished artist endowed with fair countenance and a big heartâ€™. Perhaps, that might be the best description for one of the most iconic artists of the twentieth century. But Fridaâ€™s achievements didnâ€™t come on a silver platter.
The artist suffered polio during her childhood. Various sources claim that she also had spina bifida, which caused her right leg to suffer dysmetria. As if that wasnâ€™t enough, Frida was involved in an accident during her adolescence, which only aggravated her spinal problems.
Interestingly, Kahlo surmounted all these setbacks. In 1946, she went on to receive the National Prize of Arts and Sciences, conferred on her by the Mexican Ministry of Public Education. Numerous paintings are attributed to her, including the Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, which is her self-portrait. The Broken Column is also another notable painting by Frida Kahlo, one that she did after going through spine surgery.
Painting by Frida Kahlo
- Nick Vujicic
Nicholas Vujicic was born limbless, which means he must have used folding mobility scooters nearly all his life. Nick was the first disabled child in Australia to be integrated into the countryâ€™s education system. That already speaks volumes about the struggles he went through as the only disabled pupil in his time.
According to Nick, he nearly committed suicide as a child due to ridicule and discrimination. However, he eventually rose above all the negativity and emerged as one of the worldâ€™s most outstanding beacons of hope. Most people came to know him through his sensational role in the moving film, The Butterfly Circus.
Nick is presently a motivational speaker, has numerous inspirational books to his name, and regularly features on most talk shows and TV programs around the world. He founded Life Without Limbs, an organization for people living with physical disabilities. One of his books also goes by that name.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is remembered for many things, including being the longest-serving US president. He holds the record for the only president to have served the country for more than two terms. FDR also played a pivotal role in steering the US through World War II.
But beneath his charming and charismatic personality was a man whose life nearly knocked down and ploughed over. During his nascent years in politics, President Roosevelt contracted polio while drinking at a camping site in Campobello Island, New Brunswick. The condition left him paralyzed from the waist down, consigning him to a wheelchair.
However, Franklin D Roosevelt was undaunted, and in 1932, he edged Herbert Hoover out of the White House, despite his disability being in the public domain. Franklin D. Roosevelt is associated with numerous achievements, most of which were the enactment and implementation of policies around trade and good governance.
- Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox is an American actor, author, and film producer whoâ€™s famously known for his role in the films Big City, Back to the Future, and Bright Lights. In 1991, Michael was diagnosed with Parkinsonâ€™s disease, at the age of 29. However, he kept his condition away from the public till in 1998.
The well-accomplished actor recounted how the condition threatened his career, occasionally making him contemplate quitting. He battled depression and alcoholism, with numerous calls to leave the stage. Eventually, the symptoms of this condition worsened in 2000, causing him to go on early retirement.
Though he has lived with the disease for over 25 years, Michael hasnâ€™t given up hope that a cure will be found someday. He actively supports research programs on Parkinsonâ€™s disease and has so far contributed over $230 million towards the same.
A disabled man having a blast with family
- Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder is a sensational pianist, music producer, and songwriter who at first, could easily pass for a perfectly regular artist. Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins in 1950, the songwriter was born six weeks early due to retinopathy of prematurity, which is a debilitating eye disorder.
The disorder immediately worsened after birth as he received a lot of oxygen in an incubator, which led to total blindness. However, Steve wasnâ€™t letting his condition put him down. His star began to rise during his teenage years. At the age of 11, he signed with Motownâ€™s Tamla label, his very first record label and from then, he never looked back. He has since recorded over 30 top ten hits in the US and won 25 Grammy Awards throughout his career.
Some of the most outstanding works by Stevie Wonder include I Just Called to Say I Love You, Sir Duke, and Superstition.
The above celebrities are classic examples that disability is a reality. However, you can either use it as an excuse for not achieving your full potential or go on to excel beyond your physical limitations.