All things splendid have been achieved by those who dared to believe something inside them was superior to their circumstances. It is often those who are brave enough to overcome adversity, and even see adversity as a blessing, who have a real impact on the world. Despite this, disabled people are often viewed as burdens, or deemed outcasts, because healthy individuals have difficulty relating to them. The four examples below reveal the shame in such beliefs, the reasons why the differently abled are wonderful, necessary, and incredibly joyful contributions to our society.
1. Jason McElwain
Jason McElwain is a high-functioning autistic American. In 2006 he was a student assistant, always helping out his basketball team but never allowed to play any games. That is, until the last game of his senior year, when the coach told him to suit up. After missing the hoop twice, Jason scored 20 points in 4 minutes and 19 seconds. Ecstatic cheers erupted in the crowd as they ran from their seats, hoisting him onto their shoulders. “I was on fire. I was hotter than a pistol!” Jason exclaimed.
2. Tim Harris
Though born with Down Syndrome, Tim Harris dreamed of owning his own restaurant since the age 14. “I do not let my disability crush my dreams,” he says. “People with disabilities can do anything they set their minds to.” Now the successful owner of “Tim’s Place” in Albuquerque NM, he is the first American with Down Syndrome to own a restaurant. Tim is so excited to go to work in the morning that he has a “personal dance off” in the parking lot, and hugs everyone who comes in the door.
3. Jacob Barnett
When he was a toddler, Jacob Barnett was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe autism. Now, the boy doctors said would never learn to tie his shoes is a math and science prodigy, with an IQ higher than Einstein’s. Jacob began studying condensed matter physics at the Indiana University-Purdue University at the age of 11, answering all the professor’s questions and never forgetting a single concept or math problem. Jacob says autism is the reason for his success. “It is the rise as to my love for math and science…. It’s the reason why I care. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten this far.”
4. Nick Vujicic
Nick Vujicic was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder causing a person to be born without limbs. These circumstances caused Nick to struggle with self-doubt and depression from the age of 8. He began to question his life’s purpose–or if he even had one. At age fifteen, however, he found faith in God, which gave him the strength to overcome adversity. Now an Australian Christian evangelist and motivational speaker, Nick Vujicic has delivered 2,000 speeches across 44 countries. “Dream big and never give up,” Nick says. “We all make mistakes, but none of us are mistakes. Take one day at a time. Embrace the positive attitudes, perspectives, principles and truths I share, and you too will overcome.”
Perhaps we need all need to take a step back and learn a lesson in life, courage and greatness from these gifted people.
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