Overcoming a disability is challenging, but it’s far from impossible and inspiration is all around. There are many disabled individuals whose lives are a testament to achievement and the human spirit despite obstacles. And we can learn from them. Not only have they continued to pursue goals and dreams despite physical restrictions, but they have used their circumstances to actively supported education and research.
Christopher Reeve: Best known for portraying the character “Superman”, Christopher Reeve was an American actor, director and producer who starred in numerous films. After an accident during a 1995 equestrian competition left him paralyzed, Reeve could have given up on his career. But instead he continued acting and began a crusade on behalf of others with spinal cord injuries. He founded the Christopher Reeve Foundation and co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center for embryonic stem cell research. Though confined to a wheelchair until his death in 2004, Reeve made a difference for others until the end.
Michael J. Fox: Best known for roles in the “Back to the Future” trilogy and TV’s “Family Ties” and “Spin City,” Fox moved from his native Canada to Los Angeles at age 18 to pursue an acting career. By age 30 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but today he is a tireless advocate for Parkinson’s research through the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Known as the “most optimistic guy in Hollywood,” Fox only sees opportunities and possibilities. He published a book called, “Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist,” and continues to battle Parkinson’s with a grateful and humble heart.
Chantal Petitclerc: At age 13, Petitclerc lost the use of both legs. But her love of sports never waned, and she trained fearlessly in wheelchair racing. She has won 14 gold medals in the Paralympic games published a book on her experiences in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Petitclerc actively promotes sporting events for athletes with disabilities and her athletic accomplishment has been an inspiration.
What success stories can you share? What motivates you to overcome challenges?