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Revealing News For a Better World

Inspiring Disabled Persons News Articles
Excerpts of key news articles on inspiring disabled persons


Below are highly engaging excerpts of key news articles on inspiring disabled persons who have made their mark in our world. Links are provided to the full, original news articles. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These inspiring articles are listed by order of importance. You can also explore the news articles ordered by the date of the article or by the date posted. Enjoy these highly inspiring examples of success in the face of great adversity.

Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on dozens of engaging topics. And read excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


Jessica Cox: Pilot born without arms on flying with her feet
2013-02-17, BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21377627

Jessica Cox was born without arms as a result of a rare birth defect. That has not stopped her from living her life to the fullest. In fact, Ms Cox has experienced and achieved more than most people do in a lifetime. She can drive a car, fly a plane and play piano - all with her feet. In 2012 she married Patrick, her former Taekwondo instructor (she has two black belts). They live in Tucson, Arizona. Ms Cox, 30, travels around the world as a motivational speaker, using her own life as an example of what one can achieve if one wants it enough. This month she visits Ethiopia to help promote disability rights.

Note: Don't miss the inspiring video on the BBC webpage. And for another incredibly inspiring man born without arms or feet, learn about Nick Vujicic at this link.


Empowering Dreams
2020-02-19, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://blog.sfgate.com/storystudio/2020/02/19/empowering-dreams/

At only 10 years old, [Devan Watkins] went from being an energetic sports-oriented kid to one with paraplegia navigating a new way of life from a wheelchair. It wasn’t long before he learned about adaptive sports from his physical therapist who suggested he try wheelchair basketball. Devan attended his first practice in his regular wheelchair, and for the first time since his surgery, he realized he was not alone with his new disability. Trooper Johnson coached the league along with Team USA’s Paralympic wheelchair basketball superstar, Jorge Sanchez. Jorge mentored Watkins on his new journey and introduced the Watkins family to the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), the world leader in helping people with physical challenges lead active, healthy lifestyles. CAF has given over 26,000 grants to individuals with permanent physical disabilities. As a growing 12-year-old, Devan soon found it harder to fit in the borrowed basketball wheelchairs the league offered. His mom applied for a CAF grant. He was invited to attend the Golden State Warriors practice facility for a special surprise. What he didn’t know was that Jorge Sanchez and CAF had been working behind the scenes with the Warriors to orchestrate a surprise. Devan was escorted into Chase Stadium and ... Coach Steve Kerr rolled out a brand new customized PER4MAX® basketball wheelchair on behalf of CAF. “I was very shocked. This piece of equipment and all the tips from Jorge Sanchez are so helpful,” Devan said after shooting a few hoops.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Paralyzed woman hikes the Appalachian Trail
2016-07-15, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/15/health/turning-points-paralyzed-woman-hikes-app...

The 2,190-mile long Appalachian Trail is daunting even to those who have no trouble walking. That hasn't stopped Stacey Kozel. Her paralyzed body hasn't stopped her, either. The 41-year-old ... was always active until lupus stole her muscles and strength. Since her diagnosis at 19, she ... had always managed to get back on her feet - until a flare-up in March 2014. "I walked into a hospital, came out in a wheelchair," recalled Stacey Kozel. Although Kozel was able to walk stiffly with an old pair of braces, they wouldn't help her walk comfortably enough to embrace the outdoors. The chance finally came when she came across the Ottobock C-Brace. The brace functions essentially as the muscles and bones of a leg. The price tag for the technology was steep: $75,000 each. Kozel's doctors and therapists knew that getting these braces covered by insurance would be an uphill climb. When her claim was finally approved after 12 months, she was "in shock." Three days after Kozel got her braces, Joey Pollak, Kozel's orthopedist, got a call saying Kozel was in a 5K race. "To say Stacey is an overachiever is an understatement," said Pollak. What Pollak did not know was an idea forming in Kozel's head. She wanted to show insurance companies how useful the braces can be for those who have lost their mobility. She set her mind on the Appalachian Trail, just two months after she received her braces. Now, with support from her orthopedist, her mother and strangers along the way, she is slowly approaching her destination.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Man on a mission to become first double amputee to sail around world
2020-08-07, ABC (Rhode Island affiliate)
https://www.abc6.com/man-on-a-mission-to-become-first-double-amputee-to-sail-...

One man is on a mission to become the first double amputee to sail around the world alone. Dustin Reynolds is currently docked at Bristol Marine. He refers to himself on social media as "The Single Handed Sailor," as he lost an arm and a leg in a tragic car crash in 2008. "I was trying to decide what to do next with my life," he said, "Randomly I was on the internet and I found a list of people who had set the record for sailing around the world alone. I was like, ‘Well there's no double amputee on the list, I guess I'll just do that.'" And that's exactly what he's been doing for the past six years. He began his journey in June of 2014. Reynolds essentially taught himself how to sail through reading and watching videos on the internet. He mastered it single-handedly, literally, through trial and error. "Using one hand takes longer. You have to practice and sometimes use profanities. If that doesn't work you have to think of something else to do," said Reynolds. He started his circumnavigation from his home in Hawaii and so far has sailed through the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, and Africa. "It's a really meditative thing – spending that much time by yourself," he said. Reynolds actually went bankrupt trying to pay all his medical bills after the crash in 2008, so his entire adventure is funded through crowdsourcing. In each new place he stops, he tries immersing himself in the culture there, as well as shares his own story. His ultimate goal is to [complete] his circumnavigation in November of 2021.

Note: Listen to an inspiring podcast of this courageous, caring man and his intense journey through life. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A nonspeaking valedictorian with autism gives her college's commencement speech
2022-05-12, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2022/05/12/1098506522/nonspeaking-valedictorian-autism-co...

She didn't say a word – and that only made her message resonate more powerfully. Valedictorian Elizabeth Bonker recently delivered the commencement speech at Rollins College in Florida, urging her classmates to serve others and embrace the power of sharing. Bonker, who is affected by nonspeaking autism, hasn't spoken since she was 15 months old. But thanks to an accepting attitude from her peers and teachers and help from technology, she has overcome many challenges and graduated at the top of her class at the Orlando-area school. Bonker used text-to-speech software to deliver the commencement address – an honor for which she was chosen by her fellow valedictorians. "I have typed this speech with one finger with a communication partner holding a keyboard," she said. "I am one of the lucky few nonspeaking autistics who have been taught to type. That one critical intervention unlocked my mind from its silent cage, enabling me to communicate and to be educated like my hero Helen Keller." In her speech, Bonker also evoked another hero: Fred Rogers, the Florida college's most famous alumnus. Last year, the school unveiled a statue of the man widely known as Mister Rogers. And it has long embraced his lessons. "When he died, a handwritten note was found in his wallet," Bonker said. "It said, 'Life is for service.'" She urged her classmates to rip off a piece of paper from their program, write those words down, and tuck the message away in a safe place.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles.


The 17-year-old making films fun for deaf children
2021-10-30, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-58972808

For eight-year-old Toby, who is deaf, watching films or TV on streaming platforms can sometimes be a bit pointless - because so many of them don't have sign language versions. "We have captions but they don't really do anything for him because it goes quite fast. He would just watch and not get much from it," his dad Jarod Mills [said]. But now, Toby has some help thanks to an app developed by a 17-year-old A-level student. Mariella Satow, who has dual UK-US citizenship, lives in the UK but has been stuck in New York since summer 2020 because of Covid travel restrictions. In that do-something-new phase of lockdown, Mariella created a signing app called SignUp. She got the idea when she was teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL) - one of hundreds of sign languages used across the world. Mariella wanted to watch TV shows to help her learn, so was disappointed to discover how few had signed versions. It's taken a year for Mariella to develop the technology, with lots of help from ASL teachers and the deaf community. The app is available in the US as a Google Chrome extension - with an interpreter appearing in a box once the film starts playing. It only works on Disney Plus films at the moment, because that's where Mariella thought she could help the most children. Jarod, who works in Kentucky at a school for deaf children, says it was "exciting" watching Toby use Mariella's invention. "The app creates a level playing field," he says. "Kids are getting that understanding and information like any hearing child does."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Éléonore Laloux helps France see disability differently
2021-10-15, Christian Science Monitor
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2021/1015/Eleonore-Laloux-helps-France...

City council member ÉlĂ©onore Laloux barely fills out her desk chair but her persona and vision outsize any of the Arras giants. "I'm a very committed and dynamic person, and I like to be out working with people," says Ms. Laloux. She's become a household name in Arras and regularly receives congratulations from locals for her dedication to her work. Ms. Laloux is the first and so far only person with Down syndrome to be elected to public office in France. Last year, she was put in charge of inclusion and happiness in Arras, bringing an effervescent energy to city decisions. Alongside Mayor FrĂ©dĂ©ric Leturque, Ms. Laloux has utilized her lived experience and innovative ideas to make sure inclusion and accessibility are a part of every city initiative – from education to transportation to tourism. Ms. Laloux is not just helping the city rethink what inclusion means, but also changing minds about what it's like to live with a disability as well as what those with cognitive disabilities are capable of. "Inclusion isn't something that we just think about; it's not a generous act. It's our duty," says Mr. Leturque, who put forward Ms. Laloux as a candidate last year. "ElĂ©onore has helped the entire town progress in terms of how we see disability." France doesn't take census-type statistics on people with disabilities, but Ms. Laloux is one of the few French people with a visible disability to hold a political position here. Her mere presence has transformed Arras into a model of accessibility and inclusion, and can have an impact on towns across France.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles.


A 21-year-old man has made history as the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon
2020-11-10, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/09/health/first-person-with-down-syndrome-complet...

Special Olympics athlete Chris Nikic crossed the finish line on Saturday to become the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. Guiness World Records recognized Nikic's achievement after he finished a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-marathon run at the Ironman Florida competition in Panama City Beach. "Ironman. Goal set and achieve," said Nikic in a post to Instagram. "Time to set a new and Bigger Goal for 2021." Nikic completed the race in 16 hours 46 minutes and 9 seconds - 14 minutes under the 17-hour cutoff time. Nikic fell off his bike and was attacked by ants at a nutrition stop, but he pushed on to finish the competition. "We are beyond inspired, and your accomplishment is a defining moment in Ironman history that can never be taken away from you," the Ironman Triathlon organization said. Nikic and his father Nik developed the "1 percent better challenge" to stay motivated during training. The idea is to promote Down syndrome awareness while achieving 1% improvement each day, according to Nikic's website. "To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory," Nik Nikic said. "Ironman has served as his platform to become one step closer to his goal of living a life of inclusion and leadership." Nikic's accomplishment earned him congratulatory messages from celebrities, such as tennis great Billie Jean King and runner Kara Goucher, and people around the world, including 33,000 new followers on social media

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Young Inventor Turns Her Disability into ‘Superpower' After Building Prosthetic Arm That Shoots Glitter
2020-10-14, Good News Network
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/girl-builds-unicorn-horn-prosthetic-that-shoo...

Jordan Reeves is just an ordinary 14-year-old girl who has inspired millions of people with her extraordinary "superpower." The young inventor from Columbia, Missouri was born with a left arm that stopped developing beyond the elbow. Although some people would look at her under-developed limb as just a disability, Jordan used her condition to launch her superhero alter ego. When she was 10 years old, Jordan attended a STEM workshop that encouraged kids with disabilities to think creatively about their condition - so with a 3D-printer at her disposal, she designed her own prosthetic arm that could shoot glitter from the tip. Jordan's invention was so dazzlingly successful, she went on to talk about her horn-shaped "Project Unicorn" prosthetic design on the TEDx stage, Shark Tank, and even The Rachel Ray Show. With each appearance, she hoped that Project Unicorn would encourage other kids to view disabilities as gifts rather than hindrances. As Project Unicorn gained more traction, Jordan and her mother turned their labor of love into the Born Just Right nonprofit so they could continue advocating for inclusivity. In addition to publishing a book about her experiences in 2019, Jordan and her prosthetic were featured on Episode One of Marvel's Superhero Project - and earlier this week, she was featured on a new LEGO documentary miniseries that interviews young change-makers from across North America. More than 430 children from 30 different countries contributed.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Chilean start-up, 'Wheel the World,' broadens horizons for disabled
2019-09-17, Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-chile-tourism-idUSKBN1W21OK

A Chilean start-up has been launched to open up some of the world's most iconic tourist attractions to disabled visitors. The idea for Wheel the World was borne out of an expedition three years ago to Chile's Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia by a group of friends from the University of California at Berkeley. The group crowd-funded a special wheelchair for their friend, Álvaro Silberstein, who was left quadriplegic following a car accident when he was 18. They documented their trip [and] began investigating other bucket-list vacations that could be adapted for the disabled. Since its inception last year, Wheel the World's seven-man team has arranged trips for more 900 people, including to Chile's driest desert, San Pedro de Atacama, scuba diving off Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean, ziplining in Costa Rica and a trek along the Inca Trail to Peru's Machu Picchu. Today, the group has 16 destinations both in Chile and four other countries on its online platform, and aims to increase that to 150 by 2020. Silberstein, the firm's chief executive, said the Patagonian trip had made him realize that nothing was impossible. "We realized that with the right equipment and the right information, we can help people with disabilities have these kind of experiences, to open their minds to see that we are capable of anything," he said. "There are many initiatives to make tourism more accessible ... but no one is doing it on a global level, matching tourism services with the specific needs of disabled people. That's what we do," he said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles.


'It has transformed my life': the restaurant where all staff have a disability
2019-06-10, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/10/universo-santi-spanish-restaura...

There is something different, and a little special, about Universo Santi, a restaurant in the southern Spanish city of Jerez. “People don’t come here because the staff are disabled but because it’s the best restaurant in the area. Whatever reason they came for, the talking is about the food,” says Antonio Vila. Vila is the president of the Fundación Universo Accesible, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to helping people with disabilities join the mainstream workforce. He has also been the driving force behind Universo Santi, the haute cuisine restaurant whose 20 employees all have some form of disability. “I always wanted to show what people with disabilities, given the right training, were capable of,” says Vila. “I feel really lucky to be part of this,” says Gloria Bazán, head of human resources, who has cerebral palsy. “It’s difficult to work when society just sees you as someone with a handicap. This has given me the opportunity to be independent and to participate like any other human being.” Alejandro Giménez, 23, has Down’s syndrome and is a commis chef. “It’s given me the chance to become independent doing something I’ve loved since I was a kid,” says Giménez, who lived with his mother until he was recruited. “Working here has transformed my life. So many things I used to ask my mother to do, I do myself. I didn’t even know how to take a train by myself because I’d just miss my stop.” Since it opened in October 2017, Universo Santi continues to win plaudits for its cuisine.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Ali Stroker Makes History as First Wheelchair User to Win a Tony
2019-06-09, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/09/theater/ali-stroker-oklahoma-tony-awards.html

On Sunday night, Ali Stroker became the first person who uses a wheelchair to win a Tony Award. “This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena — you are,” Ms. Stroker said while accepting her statuette for her role as Ado Annie in the Broadway revival of the musical “Oklahoma!.” Ms. Stroker, a 31-year-old New Jersey native who lost the use of her legs in a car accident when she was 2 years old, also thanked her parents “for teaching me to use my gifts to help people.” Ms. Stroker accepted the award, for best featured actress, shortly after dazzling the audience with her saucy performance of the “Oklahoma!” song “I Cain’t Say No.” “I find it to be fascinating that often people don’t think I can dance,” she said. “Who says that dance isn’t turning on wheels? Who says dancing isn’t throwing your arms up in the air and grabbing someone else’s arms to be propelled across the stage?” She also spoke about what it is like to aspire to succeed in an industry where people with disabilities are not represented. “I’m very aware that when I was a little girl I wasn’t seeing anybody like me, and on days when I’m exhausted or discouraged about something, that lights a fire,” she said. “I hope that for young people in chairs who feel that this is too hard, that they see that being in a chair is like getting a secret key to an unknown door — that they ... are reassured that anything is possible.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Heard the One About the Disabled Muslim Comic From Jersey?
2018-10-29, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/arts/television/maysoon-zayid-disabled-mus...

The stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid likes to joke that if there were a competition called the Oppression Olympics, she would win gold. “I’m Palestinian, Muslim, I’m a woman of color, I’m disabled,” Zayid, who has cerebral palsy, tells audiences, before pausing a beat to hang her head, her long dark hair curtaining her face, “and I live in New Jersey.” The joke lands laughs whether Zayid tells it in red states or blue. She told it near the beginning of her 2014 TED Talk, which drew nearly 15 million views. She now has a development deal with ABC to create a ... sitcom called “Can-Can,” starring her. If “Can-Can” makes it ... it may push two populations, one widely ignored, the other demonized, from the country’s margins into the mainstream. People with disabilities make up nearly 20 percent of the population yet account for about 2 percent of onscreen characters, some 95 percent of which are played by able-bodied stars. And it is hard to imagine a group more vilified in the United States than Muslims or Middle Easterners. Zayid is a vociferous part of a small, dedicated movement calling attention to disability rights in entertainment, which are consistently overlooked in the quote-unquote diversity conversation. Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a philanthropic and advocacy organization for disability rights ... said Zayid’s show could crush enduring stigmas disabled people face.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'Drag Syndrome': Performers with Down syndrome find outlet for their creativity
2018-10-13, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/drag-syndrome-performers-down-s-syndr...

[Otto] Baxter, 31, is part of an art collective called Culture Device — a group of approximately 12 performers that experiment with contemporary dance and theater, pushing the boundaries of the cultural arena by changing perceptions of what it means to be an artist today. This is because of the sheer talent radiating from the small troupe’s repertoire, one that has tackled the likes of haute couture photography and stage classics such as "Waiting for Godot," but also on account that all the performers share the genetic condition Down syndrome. “The starting point is the art,” Daniel Vais, Culture Device’s creative director and choreographer, told NBC News. “Before Down’s syndrome, before extra chromosome, before disability, before anything.” Culture Device has slowly built up a reputation for its high-quality work in a sector not known for its inclusivity. A 2018 report by Arts Council England, for instance, found that most art forms and institutions generally had less than 5 percent of disabled persons working in them. “I didn’t plan to work with artists with Down’s syndrome,” said Vais. “It found me.” While considered a disability that has varying levels of severity, Vais dismisses what he calls a bias-ridden label, preferring to uphold the notion that individuals with Down syndrome have a mindset akin to what’s needed for outstanding artistic creation. “I use improvisation in all of my choreography,” he said, “and artists with Down syndrome are the masters of improvisation.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Meet 'Sesame Street's' muppet with autism
2017-03-20, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/20/entertainment/sesame-street-julia-autism/

The newest resident of "Sesame Street" has orange hair and a fondness for her toy rabbit. She also has autism. Julia has been a part of the "Sesame Street" family via its storybooks and was so popular that the decision was made to add the character to the TV series. "I think the big discussion right at the start was, 'How do we do this? How do we talk about autism?,'" one of the show's writers, Christine Ferraro, told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl. Over the almost five decades "Sesame Street" has been on the air, it has established a reputation for inclusion with its characters. Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the founders of the Children's Television Workshop which developed "Sesame Street," said it has also not been afraid to deal with real life issues. Julia's debut episode will deal with what autism can look like. The brain disorder can make it difficult for people with autism to communicate with and relate to others. The character of Big Bird talked to Stahl about his first interaction with Julia in which she ignored him. "I thought that maybe she didn't like me," he said. "Yeah, but you know, we had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird," the Elmo character added. "It's just that Julia has autism. So sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things." Ferraro hopes that along with educating viewers about autism the new character will settle in as a part of the neighborhood. "I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on Sesame Street who has autism," the writer said. "I would like her to be just Julia."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How an Aussie Man With Cerebral Palsy Tackled the Kokoda Trail
2016-09-25, SBS (Australia's Special Broadcasting Service)
https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-feed/how-an-aussie-man-with-cerebral-palsy-ta...

Andrew Short lives with spastic cerebral palsy, which he contracted during birth. Cerebral palsy is a disorder that effects muscle tone, movement and motor skills, but despite impaired speech Andrew’s disability doesn’t impair his mind, and he learned to read early. “I speak three languages,” said Andy. “English, German, and spastic. Spastic is my mother tongue." Andrew is currently completing a Masters Degree in Disability Studies, but his most impressive achievement has been walking the Kokoda Trail, which he describes as “the toughest physical challenge of [his] life”. In Andy’s late twenties, his motor function appeared to begin deteriorating. “We were told to accept that that's what it would be,” said [Andrew's father] David. Instead, David and Andrew began researching the emerging field of neuroplasticity ... inspired by the seminal [book], “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science”. Andrew’s physical condition is due in part to his trainer, Lee Campbell, a former army trainer and Sydney Swans team member. The two have been training together for five and a half years, and in that time Lee estimates that his physical condition has risen from 2.5 to a 7 or 8. “You watch Andy pull a sled with 20 or 30 kilos of weights in it, he stands up, his posture is corrected,” said Lee. “His finer motor skills now are getting refined. He can hold things, he can cook, he can do his buttons up.” Right now, they’re training together for Andy’s next endeavour, walking the Great Wall of China.

Note: Don't miss the most inspiring video at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Is it possible to be fat and fit? At 250 pounds, distance runner Mirna Valerio provides an inspiring example.
2015-07-01, Runner's World
https://web.archive.org/web/20150825022946/http://www.runnersworld.com/runner...

“People always say to me, ‘Anyone who runs as much as you do deserves to be skinny.’ Of course, what they're really saying: ‘If you do all this running, why are you still so fat?’” Early that morning [Mirna] Valerio had led a three-mile group run around the campus of Rabun Gap-Na-coochee School in the nearby town of Rabun Gap, where she serves as Spanish teacher, choir director, and head coach of the cross-country team. She's about to start her second run of the day. Every run, every race, every traverse of a mountain trail, every gym workout, Valerio begins by taking a photo. “To prove that I was out here,” she explains. Later, she will post the photos on ... her blog, Fat Girl Running, in which she both writes of the joys of the running life and thoughtfully, humorously, and sometimes angrily rebuts her doubters, who can't believe that a self-described fat person might discover - or deserve - this kind of joy. With a BMI ... above the National Institutes of Health-established line defining obesity, Valerio, a marathoner, ultramarathoner, and trail runner, has emerged as ... a living argument that it's possible to be both fit and fat. “I'm pretty much in love with my body,” she writes. “Sometimes I get disappointed or angry with it, but like any long-term, committed relationship, it usually comes right back to love and respect.” By making peace with her obesity - or, more accurately, by fighting her disease to a kind of enduring, vigorously active truce - Valerio draws kudos from a formerly skeptical medical community.

Note: Read another great piece on this inspiring woman.


Richie Parker, Star NASCAR Engineer At Hendrick Motorsports, Doesn't Have Arms
2013-07-23, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/23/richie-parker-nascar-engineer-withou...

The fact that Richie Parker can ride a bike doesn't sound impressive -- until you see him do it. Same goes for the car repairs he makes using power tools. Parker was born without arms, a disability he's overcome time and time again, ultimately leading him to his job engineering chassis and body components for Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR's most winning organization. "Based on his resume, I knew he could do the things that I needed him to do, it was more a question of how,” Rex Stump, engineering manager at Hendrick, said of Parker. Just like every other hurdle in his life, Parker found a way, placing the keyboard and mouse on the floor, then operating both with his feet to build custom high-performance automotive parts. His story has also inspired countless others, not the least of [whom] is Magic Johnson. After watching [an] ESPN segment [on Parker], the retired NBA star tweeted, "Richie Parker's story proves that you can do anything you set your mind to. We should all stop complaining and giving excuses." Or, as Parker says, "I don't know there's a lot in life ... that I'd say I can't do. Just things I haven't done yet."

Note: Don't miss the most awesome video of Richie at the link above. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Jacob Barnett, 14-Year-Old With Asperger's Syndrome, May Be Smarter Than Einstein
2013-05-11, Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/11/jacob-barnett-autistic-14-year-old-n...

When Jacob Barnett was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. Doctors told his parents that the boy would likely never talk or read and would probably be forever unable to independently manage basic daily activities like tying his shoe laces. But they were sorely, extraordinarily mistaken. Today, Barnett -- now 14 -- is a Master's student, on his way to earning a PhD in quantum physics. The teen, who boasts an IQ of 170, has already been tipped to one day win the Nobel Prize. Since enrolling at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) at the age of 10, Barnett has flourished -- astounding his professors, peers and family with his spectacular intelligence. The teen tutors other college students in subjects like calculus and is a published scientific researcher, with an IQ that is believed to be higher than that of Albert Einstein. In fact, according to a 2011 TIME report, Barnett, who frequently tops his college classes, has asserted that he may one day disprove Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Outside of his rigorous university commitments, Barnett, who has Asperger's Syndrome, is also an entrepreneur and aspiring author. The teen, who, with his family, runs a charity called Jacob's Place for kids on the spectrum, has used his story to raise awareness and dispel myths about autism. In April, [his mother] Kristine Barnett's memoir about her family's experience with autism, The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius, was released. A movie deal is said to be in the works.

Note: For the CBS 60 Minutes piece on this child genius, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.


Dance group of women in wheelchairs inspires young girls with disabilities
2019-01-17, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-rollettes-dance-group-of-women-in-wheelchair...

You've heard of the Rockettes, but have you heard of the Rollettes – a dance troupe of women in wheelchairs? The Los Angeles-based group was founded by Chelsie Hill, who always wanted to be a dancer, and wasn't going to let her paralysis stop her. "In high school, I got into a car with a friend who was drinking and we ended up hitting a tree head-on," Hill [said]. She decided that despite the tragedy, she was going to continue doing what she loved. She danced with her high school team in her wheelchair, and when she graduated, she was inspired to show other girls with disabilities they could dance, too. "I found this group of girls on social media who all had spinal cord injuries and I invited them to my hometown to dance with me. It was such an amazing experience," she said. The group put on a show in Monterey, California, where Hill grew up, and the Rollettes were born. Right now, there are six dancers on the team who perform competitively together. Not only does Hill coordinate this small group of dancers, but every year she holds a dance camp for women around the world. Girls of all ages attend the camp and learn how to dance in their chairs. For Hill, it's not just about teaching others the art of dance, it's about giving them a space where they feel like they belong. "I had a girl say it was the most empowering thing that she rolled into a room and everyone was at eye-level. I want people to come into that room feeling so normal, so empowered so that they can go out in the world and conquer anything," Hill said.

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