While many people spend their lives lamenting what they do not have and ignoring the many gifts they possess, there are those who, through sheer determination, willpower, and ambition, have managed to show the world that physical disabilities are not a constraining factor.
Bright Side brings you the story of 10 amazing people who inspired millions around the world.
10. Amy Purdy
Wow, already a year ago today that I danced with a robot in the opening ceremonies for the Paralympic Games in Rio! To be honest, I almost turned it down because it was the first time that I would dance on my own without a partner and I was scared I would mess up in front of the world to see. Over 200 million people alone watched in Brazil, let alone the millions around the world and it ended up being one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I spent 40 days in Brazil training and absolutely fell in love with the country and people and I was so grateful to cheer on all the athletes! Sometimes you have to just get out of your own way and say "Yes!" to opportunities and see where they take you! I'm so happy I did! Thank you Rio for giving me one of the best memories of my life! 📸- Joe Kusamoto @usparalympics @paralympics @jbelflow @teamusa #riodejaneiro #rio #brazil #kuka #dwts #dance #runningblades #liveinspired
Avid snowboarder Amy Purdy contracted bacterial meningitis at the age of 19 and, as a result, her legs had to be amputated from below the knee. She also lost both her kidneys and her spleen. 2 years later, she received a kidney transplant from her father. And just 3 months later, Amy was back on the slopes with her prosthetic legs. She went on to win a bronze medal in the 2014 Paralympics and a silver medal in the 2018 Paralympics for the snowboarding event.
9. Aaron Fotheringham
Aaron Fotheringham was confined to a wheelchair when he was 8 years old. Inspired by his brother who rode a BMX bike at the skatepark, Fotheringham started practicing using a specially modified wheelchair. At the age of 14, he became the first person to perform a backflip in a wheelchair and executed a double backflip at the age of 18.
8. Evelyn Glennie
Evelyn Glennie is a virtuoso percussionist who has been deaf since the age of 12 and claims to have taught herself to hear from body parts other than her ears — something you will certainly believe if you hear her play. For her contribution to music, she has been awarded Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2007.
7. Zack Ruhl
Zack Ruhl was born without thigh bones and suffered from brittle bone disease so doctors had to amputate his legs. Today he is a CrossFit trainer and can easily bench press 420 lb and do pushups in his wheelchair.
6. Marla Runyan
Despite being blind, Marla Runyan not only won 4 gold medals at the 1992 Summer Paralympics in the long jump and the 100-m, 200-m, and 400-m races but also at able-bodied events including the Pan American Games in Winnipeg in 1999, where she won a gold medal in the 1,500-m race.
5. Spencer West
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is something most people would consider to be impossible. But the highest peak in Africa didn’t scare Spencer West. At the age of 31, Spencer West achieved the impossible — he climbed the mountain using just his hands.
4. Bethany Hamilton
In 2003, while out surfing with her best friend, her father, and brother, 13-year old Bethany Hamilton suffered a shark attack and lost her left arm. By the time she was taken to the hospital she had already lost over 60% of her blood and was in hemorrhagic shock. But she was a determined girl and within a month of the attack, she was back on the board. Today, she is a very successful professional surfer.
3. Angel Giuffria
The Hunger Games actress was born with just one arm. While most people would take that as a curse, Angel Giuffria’s strong determination has made her a successful actress. Recently, while attending an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, music festivals, and conferences, she perplexed people by requesting to let her charge her prosthetic arm from a power plug instead of their cellphones.
2. Jessica Cox
How much can you achieve in life if you do not have both your arms? Almost anything you desire if you have the willpower. Meet Jessica Cox — the world’s first licensed armless pilot, as well as the first armless black-belt in the American Taekwondo Association. She is also a certified SCUBA diver, an author, a motivational speaker, and has competed in the 40-mile segment of El Tour de Tucson.
1. Qian Hongyan
Qian Hongyan lost both her legs in a car accident in 2000 when she was just 4 years old. Being born in southwestern China’s Yunnan province, getting artificial limbs was beyond her family’s means. But after attracting the attention of the Chinese press, she was able to get free artificial limbs and joined the local swimming club for the disabled. Her hard work and determination paid off when she became a national champion in the Chinese National Paralympics Swimming Competition in the year 2009 and won a gold medal in the 100-m breaststroke final in the Yunnan Provincial Paralympic Games in 2015.
While all 10 of these stories are incredibly inspiring, we would like to know which moved you the most and inspired you to go the extra mile to achieve your dreams. Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!