The world celebrates December 3rd as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, with the strong message that they don’t need us to pity them. They love being in their own skin and prefer being called “specially abled.” Life has not outsmarted them yet, but they are the ones who’ve actually won.
The Jaga Trends team searched and put together some inspiring stories of people who took a pledge to never give up.
1. Sue Austin
Job: Artist working in multimedia, performance and installation
Sue Austin is a trained, disabled artist working in multimedia, performance, and installation. She gained most of her popularity through a stunt where she went under water and sat in a wheelchair. It is best known as “Creating the Spectacle!” It was performed as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
The popularity of this underwater wheelchair stunt was so huge that she went on to perform it for more than 150 million people worldwide. It was wise of her to get this stunt patented in 2013.
2. Amir Bomjan
A young boy named Amir hailing from Palung in southern Nepal was born without arms and legs. But it didn’t stop him one bit in the pursuit of his passion for art. He decided to hold the paint brush in his mouth and had his dreams show through the colors.
He soon became an icon in his country and got assistance from the Karuna Foundation in 2015. He moved to the capital city of Kathmandu with their help and gained popularity. He is also into writing poetry.
3. John Bramblitt
John Bramblitt is American and was born in 1971. Sadly, he lost his sight gradually in 2001 after a series of severe seizures. This put him into a deep depression but he soon brushed away all of it by spending his time in painting. Initially it was difficult, but he started distinguishing colors by touching them and feeling their texture.
His paintings were applauded worldwide and have been displayed in more than 30 countries. His life story has been so inspiring that a short film and a YouTube video made about him won several awards and accolades. As a person with a warm heart, he also conducted free art classes for those who didn’t have access to art school and for that he was awarded with 3 U.S. presidential awards in 2005, 2006, and 2007.
4. Tim Harris
Job: Restaurant owner
When Tim served breakfast to his customers with a smile and showed the utmost hospitality, no one ever imagined he had down syndrome. He opened his own restaurant quieting all those claims that people with this condition can’t stand on their own 2 feet. He is now the owner of Tim’s Place, a popular restaurant in Albuquerque.
Impressed by his willpower and success story, he was featured in People Magazine and on CBS’s On the Road with Tim Hartman. Several other publications also featured him and he always believed in his own motto: “I’m more like you than different.”
5. Krystal Cantu
Job: CrossFit trainer
Life was going well for the San Antonio, Texas based cross fit trainer Krystal Cantu until 2013 when a horrific car accident changed everything and she lost her right arm. But for those who thought this would put a pause in her personal or professional life, it came as a big shock when she was back to her usual self just 3 weeks after the accident.
Surprisingly, Cantu isn’t worried at all about her loss and in fact sounds even more motivated. After the accident, she went on to break all her personal records that she had achieved before losing her arm. Her trainer says it’s encouraging to have her around in the gym.
6. Itzhak Perlman
The Israeli-American violinist, Itzhak Perlman was born in 1945 and contracted polio at the age of 4. As a boy, he became interested in playing violin at the very early age of 3 after getting inspired by a radio show. However, he was denied entry into the violin classes for being too young. This didn’t deter him from learning to play violin and he started practicing using a toy fiddle.
His talent took him to newer heights and he gave performances worldwide. He was also awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
7. Marlee Matlin
Job: Actor and motivational speaker
Marlin is completely deaf in one ear and has lost 80% of her hearing in the other since she was 18 months old. Paying no attention to these limitations, she became a successful actor and author. Based in America, she is also an avid activist. She’s debuted in films since the age of 21 and is the only deaf actor to have won a Golden Globe Award for best actress in a drama, and an Academy Award for best actress for her movie Children of A Lesser God.
She has also written an autobiography called I’ll Scream Later. Her career is still going strong and she has never looked back.
8. Subhreet Kaur Ghumman
Have feet, will dance! This phrase didn’t stop Indian dancer Subhreet Kaur Ghumman from pursuing her dreams after she lost her leg in an accident. It was devastating for her and her family when, due to a doctor’s negligence, her leg had to be amputated in 2009. Despite this physical limitation, she practiced daily and decided to participate in a reality TV show.
She gained so much popularity through that show and went on to participate in another reality show soon after. She is on a roll now and is living her dream of becoming a successful dancer.
9. Jason McElwain
Job: Basketball player
He suffered from acute form of autism and didn’t start to speak until he was 5. As we talk about the life of Jason McElwain, we often start by talking about his willpower. His biggest passion and hobby since childhood was basketball. Despite the roadblocks, he continued to pursue it and went on to get selected to be a part of his high school team which is another twisted story.
Considered too young to play on the team, he was made the manager of the team. However, in the last home game, the coach let Jason in for the last 4 minutes of the game, which came as a surprise to the team as well. This was not the time to lose this opportunity and he went on to throw more than 5 3-pointers. The overjoyed team took him on their shoulders and the moment was awarded by ESPY as the Best Moment of Sports in 2006.
Jason never looked back and also wrote a book on his life journey titled “The Game of My Life.”
10. Oksana Masters
Job: Paralympic rower
One can easily call Oksana Masters a total winner. She was born with some serious defects in her body like tibial hemimelia (leading to varied leg lengths), no shinbone in her calves, webbed fingers with no thumbs, and 6 toes on each foot.
She was abandoned by her birth parents and it wasn’t until she turned 7 that she was adopted by someone. She underwent several treatments and surgeries after that to correct her birth defects. Her willpower and cheerfulness never faded away despite everything she went through. She’s also a cross-country skier, the number of awards she has won all through her career are almost uncountable.
Isn’t it so inspiring reading through all these stories of specially-abled people? We are sure you also know some around you and we would love to hear about them in the comment section below.
Preview photo credit oksanamasters / Instagram