Welcome to our collection of profiles on people living with a disability who show remarkable spirit and serve as an inspiration to us all. Please visit this page often as we add new profiles, and we hope these incredible persons help to lift your spirit if you're facing a tough challenge. And if you know someone who deserves to be showcased here, please let us know by sending an email to info@LauraAndWagner.com
Nick Vujicic: Educating the world about Life Without Limbs
Nick Vujisic was born 27 years ago in Australia with no arms or legs and was given no medical reason for this condition. The son of a church Pastor in Melbourne, his family and their church family were devastated and his birth was mourned rather than celebrated. yet while his father and mother questioned their faith and why a 'God of love' would let something like this happen, especially to committed Christians, it would be their collective faith that would pull them through and create a lifelong pathway for Nick to grow and thrive along.
That doesn't mean there weren't tough times along the way. Once Nick entered school he experienced rejection and bullying that left him feeling very depressed and angry because he couldn't change the way he was or how people treated him. And he even battled with thoughts of suicide, but credits his family and friends for lending him strength and comfort.
It was once again his faith that would lead him forward. It was around the age of twelve that Nick had what he calls 'a wake-up call' and felt that God had instilled a passion of sharing his story and experiences to help others cope with whatever challenge they may have in their lives.
While not everyone who reads this may be of the Christian faith, Nick's irrepressible spirit certainly shines as a beacon for the millions of people he is telling his story to worldwide. It is that perseverance and selflessness that we feel honored to showcase here.
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@LifeWithoutLimbs.org: Learn more about Nick and see more videos about his life and mission
@HuffingtonPost.com: Nick is featured in HP's Impact section
@Wikipedia: Read more about the life of Nick Vujicic
Aimee Mullins: The Opportunity of Adversity
Mullins set world records using prosthetic devices, she's an actress and model
She believes people aren't disabled; society disables people when it denies their potential
Mullins: The stigma of amputation is largely gone in the United States thanks to technology
New York (CNN) -- People come up to Aimee Mullins all the time and say, "you know, I have to tell you, you just don't look disabled."
The record-setting athlete, actress and model says, "And it's sweet because I know that they're confused, and they're telling me this because they know I'm missing both legs from the shin down, but they're presented with this package of a highly capable young woman. This has happened all over the world. I tell them it's interesting because I don't feel disabled."
She believes that people are not born disabled. "It's society that disables an individual by not investing in enough creativity to allow for someone to show us the quality that makes them rare and valuable and capable."
Click here to read more about Aimee and her story as reported by CNN and watch the video, below, of her address at 'TED Talk Tuesdays' in which she challenges the 'disabled attitudes' of people who don't know any better.
You can also watch a video of Aimee talking about pushing the body's limits.
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@YouTube.com: Aimee Mullins: How my legs give me super powers
@TED.com: Aimee Mullins and her 12 pairs of legs
@YouTube.com: Aimee Mullins Kenneth Cole Ad
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Daniel Kish: The Modern Day Guru of Echolocation
Two of the photos above show Daniel meeting Ruben Morris, who was born in November of 2007 in Birmingham, England and diagnosed with Leber's Congenital Amourosis at the age of 7 months which left him with no useful vision and no signs of any light perception. You can visit Ruben's site here.
Daniel Kish lost both his eyes to retinal cancer at the age of 13 months. At an early age, he spontaneously developed his own ability to 'see' by making clicking sounds with his tongue and listening to the 'shapes' of how they echoed off nearby objects or buildings. As he became more proficient, Daniel would go on to refine his technique and teach it to others through the non-profit organization World Access for the Blind and would also develop a hand-held clicking device.
In the Articles section of LauraAndWagner.com, you can read more about Echolocation and the various practitioners of it. Daniel has given lectures and workshops around the world, and we are grateful that he participated in the Laura And Wagner Foundation's ABLED Fundraising evening in December of 2009.
In the following video excerpt from that evening, you'll see an example of Daniel using echolocation courtesy of an excerpt from the UK's Channel 4 program "The Events" with Derren Brown. Daniel also tells Laura how disabling the attitudes of the retail sector can be by not providing accessible consumer goods. Click here to watch it on the Laura And Wagner Channel @youtube.com. You can also watch the interview excerpts with Edsel Estanista, Ellis Rothweiler and Mike May.
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@YouTube.com: Daniel Kish and Juan Ruiz using and explaining Echolocation
@YouTube.com: Derren Brown and Daniel Kish
@The Museum Of Science +Industry Chicago: Seeing With Sound
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@WorldAccessForTheBlind.org | @BBC's 'Ouch' | @ManWithoutFear.com | @PsychologyToday.com
Randy Pausch: The Legacy of his 'Last Lecture'
On September 18, 2007, computer science professor and Virtual Reality pioneer Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to present “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that was devouring his pancreas and that would claim his life in a matter of months.
Randy died on July 25, 2008 from complications of pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife, Jai, and their three children, Dylan, Logan, and Chloe.
On the day he gave his 'Last lecture', Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. He seemed invincible. But this was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged. Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon, celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. It is now approaching 12 million views on YouTube, and has been featured on TV programs such as Oprah, and in online special showcases such as the one at ABC's Good Morning America. Randy also co-authored a book called "The Last Lecture" on the same theme, which became a New York Times best-seller.
It is such an inspirational example of someone's positive spirit holding fast in the face of incredible adversity, that we are proud to showcase it on our website.
If you would like to watch the lecture and are using text reading/writing software such as JAWS, click here. Or you can simply click on the YouTube window below:
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@Wikipedia: Randy Pausch
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Helen Keller: A Daring Adventure
"My darkness has been filled with the light of intelligence, and behold, the outer day-lit world was stumbling and groping in social blindness."
Many people know of Helen Keller through the Hollywood movie "The Miracle Worker", starring Patty Duke.
But many people are not aware of the fact that this remarkable deaf-blind woman became "a prolific writer, a peacemaker, a passionate advocate, not just for blind and disabled people, but for equal rights. Keller was not only an advocate for the disabled, but also a suffragette who advocated for birth control, a socialist and a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Helen Keller lost her hearing and vision at the age of 17 months. She died 86 years later in 1968, a few years after receiving the highest civilian honor in the United States, the Medal of Freedom.
To help introduce the lifetime legacy of Helen Keller's incredible achievements, the American Foundation for the Blind is running an exhibit at its Manhattan headquarters in New York City called "Helen Keller: A Daring Adventure" from May 7th through July 30th.
The foundation is letting the public see some of its vast Helen Keller holdings as part of a fundraising effort to digitize the archival collection totaling 80,000 letters, photographs, books and artifacts bequeathed by Keller, who worked for the foundation for 44 years. The Associated Press was given an exclusive, early tour of the exhibit and you can read more about it here.
The exhibit tells Keller's story beyond "The Miracle Worker" and offers insight into one of the most influential and beloved figures of the 20th century. The exhibit features a variety of her prized possessions including the earliest existing words she wrote as a child; the honorary Oscar she won for the documentary based on her life; two of her Socialist Party of America membership cards; and a Zulu shield and a silver-encased bible she received during her world travels.
All of the items in the show were culled from AFB's extensive Helen Keller Archives, which contains more than 80,000 items. The items were bestowed to AFB by Keller, who worked for the organization for 44 years. Entrance to the exhibit is free and a $10 donation is suggested to help support AFB's new fundraising campaign to preserve and digitize all of Keller's items in the archive.
Keller once said, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." The exhibit groups her artifacts into thematic sections so visitors can learn about Keller's own daring adventure. The sections are: Early Life & Childhood, Idealism & Activism, Author, World Traveler, Celebrity and a special section featuring gifts Keller received from around the world. In addition, the exhibit will feature two interactive computer kiosks where visitors can access AFB's Helen Keller Kids Museum Online. One of the site's popular features is documentary footage of Anne Sullivan Macy demonstrating how Keller learned to speak. The exhibit is accessible to people with vision loss through braille, large print guides and audio tours.