We face many challenges and hardships in our lives, but none can compare to people who have physical disabilities that render them incapacitated to function as normal people would. Still, many people such as Stephen Hawking and Helen Keller have never allowed their disabilities to stop them from pursuing what they want. Hawking, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL), went on to become a celebrated physicist, astrophysicist, and cosmologist. Keller, who was deaf and blind, was an American author, political activist, and lecturer.
Not only are these people famous in the field of sciences and education. They are also famous for defying the odds and inspiring the generations that came after them. The limits of your dreams, successes, and imaginations are not your physical disabilities. It is your mindset. Plenty of people have faced dangers, risks, sacrifices, and enormous challenges to fulfill their dreams. They did surpass those because they worked hard for it, and they believed that they could.
Hawking learned he has ASL when he was 21 years old. That did not stop him from pursuing his interests—physics and cosmology. He was most famous for his discovery that black holes emit radiation that then became the foundation of the detailed study of black holes. He also created Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, one of the most interesting shows on the Discovery Channel.
Since the 1980s, Hawking was only able to move through a powerchair. That did not stop him from studying the framework of general relativity and quantum mechanics. Hawking’s book, A Brief History of Time, stayed on the Sunday Times bestseller list for 237 weeks.
Keller was the first person who is deaf and blind to earn a college degree. There were limited vision impairment devices back then, but she went on to become an author, educator, and political activist, fighting for women’s and labor rights. She wrote a total of 12 books that included her autobiography, My Religion. Her story was also made into a film entitled The Miracle Worker.
She communicated using fingerspelling with anyone who could understand it. Eventually, her teacher, Anne Sullivan, was able to teach Helen a few words. Her first word was water. Keller is a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Despite his amazing musical prowess, Stevie Wonder will never witness for himself how his music makes people feel. Wonder was born blind because the blood vessels at the back of his eyes did not reach the front. But he has an amazing musical talent.
At 11, Wonder signed his first record label. He never stopped pursuing his passion for music, recording more than 30 US top 10 hits. His singles “Superstition” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You” are cult classics. You can turn on the radio anytime now and sing along to these songs.
Known for her brilliantly colorful self-portraits that deals with identity, the human body, and death, Kahlo was one of the most famous artists of all time. Many also consider her an icon of the 20th century. As a child, she suffered from polio. Some reports also said that she had spina bifida, a type of neural tube defect wherein the spine and spinal cord did not form properly. She also suffered through an accident in her adolescent years, which left her with physical problems throughout her life.
These almost-always physical discomforts did not stop Kahlo from creating some of the most renowned paintings in Mexican art history. Some of her most notable works are the Two Nudes in a Forest, the Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, and The Two Fridas. Many of her paintings commanded a price tag north of $10 million.
Another music genius, Bocelli was born with congenital glaucoma, leaving him partially blind. That didn’t stop him from studying the piano until he was six years old. But when he was 12, he suffered a blow that left him completely blind. He decided to focus on music and singing. To date, Bocelli is one of the most renowned opera singers in the world, having sold more than 75 million records.
If you have ever listed to a motivational speech, try one of Vujicic’s talks. His voice is heard around the world. He wrote several books and received numerous awards. Vujicic did these all without limbs. He was born in 1982 with no limbs, and as a kid, he was ridiculed. He admitted to trying to commit suicide but later on learned to accept his fate.
He is the founder of Life Without Limbs, an organization that caters to disabled people. Vujicic also starred in the short film “The Butterfly Circus,” where he first became famous. Right now, you can hear from Vujicic on talk shows and TV programs.
If you hear anyone say that you cannot do something—whether you are physically able or not—remember that so many people before you have done the impossible. They achieved things that were physically designed for them not to reach. These are the people you should look up to, and not anyone who makes you feel otherwise.