4 Inspiring People With Disabilities

Parmele Law FirmSocial Security

Living with disability is a constant struggle. Just performing ordinary, everyday tasks can feel overwhelming or impossible. It takes enormous strength, courage, faith and support just to get through the day. Which is why today we are celebrating the outstanding and mind-boggling achievements of four disabled individuals who not only accomplished the ordinary, but the extraordinary.

  1. Stephen William Hawking (1942 – 2018)

In 1963, Stephen Hawking contracted motor neurone disease. He was given two years to live. Despite this dismal prediction, Hawking went on not only to live well beyond the 2 years, but to become a world-renowned physicist.

From 1979 to 2009 he held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking received over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. He was a fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the US National Academy of Science.

Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.

  1. Jim Abbott

If you’re a sports fan, (and old enough) you might remember seeing James Abbot pitch. Born without his right hand, even as a young boy, Jim Abbott was determined to play ball.

As a high school student, he invented his own method of pitching while playing catch with his dad in the front yard of their Michigan hom. When preparing to pitch, Abbott would rest his mitt on the end of his right forearm, release the ball with his left, then slip his hand into the mitt in time to field balls the same as any two-handed pitcher. Then, he would secure the mitt between his right forearm and torso, slip his hand out of the mitt, and remove the ball from the mitt to throw out the runner.

Abbott won the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation’s best amateur athlete in 1987 and won a gold medal in the demonstration event at the 1988 Summer Olympics. He  pitched for the University of Michigan for three years and led them to two Big Ten championships. In 1989, he joined the big leagues with the LA Angels, and then moved to the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers, pitching a total of 888 strikeouts. In 1993, he pitched a no-hitter for the Yankees against the Cleveland Indians.

Abbott believes that one’s misfortunes make you stronger, and so are actually a gift.  He also believes that challenge just keeps coming at you. Today, Abbott tours the country as a motivational speaker. In 2012, his autobiography, Imperfect: An Improbable Life, was released.

  1. Ralph Braun (1940-2013)

If your disability does not require you to use a wheelchair or scooter, you may not have heard of Ralph Braun. But it was Ralph Braun’s indomitable spirit, ingenuity, and drive that has made mobility possible for all.

As a boy, Ralph was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. Doctors told his parents he’d never be independent, but both Ralph and his parents were determined to prove them wrong.

Within a few short years, Ralph lost the ability to walk.  Taking that as a head-on challenge, Ralph set his mind to engineering the first battery-powered scooter. He then designed the world’s first wheelchair lift, which he installed in an old postal Jeep, complete with hand controls.

What started as a personal drive to keep independent, evolved into the creation of the leading manufacturer of mobility products across the globe.

Ralph had every opportunity in the world to make excuses for himself – why he couldn’t go to school or get a job or even get out of bed in the morning. But he never made excuses for himself.  Instead, he built an entire industry and made automotive accessibility a reality in American society.

Ralph Braun passed away in 2013 at the age of 72.

  1. Helen Keller

Think you’ve got it bad in today’s modern world of braille, seeing-eye dogs, service dogs, close-captioned television, wheelchairs and disability laws? Then think about Helen Keller for a minute.

Born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama, when she was 2 years old, Helen Keller was stricken by an illness that left her blind and deaf.

Beginning in 1887, Helen Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, helped her make tremendous progress with her ability to communicate, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Unable to see or hear, Hellen Keller went on to college, graduating in 1904.She became an American author, political activist and lecturer. Her picture is even on the Alabama state quarter. Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person (and a woman to boot!) to earn a college degree. Her story was famously portrayed in the play and film, The Miracle Worker.

Helen wrote 12 published books, including her spiritual autobiography, My Religion. She campaigned heavily for women’s rights and other labor rights.


Sometimes just getting through the day can be heroic. If you need a little inspiration or motivation, look deep inside yourself and take courage from other extraordinary disabled individuals.

Compassionate, Caring, Disability Counsel.   

We understand how difficult living with a disability can be. And we find inspiration in the strength and courage we see in our clients every day. If you need help, contact us. We are experienced disability attorneys. We have offices throughout Missouri. We also have offices in Kansas, Illinois and in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We offer FREE consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Call us at 855-727-8625.