Celebrities have an advantage over others. They are heard when they talk. And when they can’t talk, their actions speaks louder than any voice. And, if they are celebrities with disabilities, they become role models, for people to emulate their actions. They are celebrities by virtue of their grit and determination to not let their disability become a handicap, and by motivating others to reach out beyond their own disabilities.
A list of some of these eminent & famous people with cerebral palsy will help in that I am not alone feeling and will go a long way in sharing strength and courage.
Stephen Hawking: The internationally renowned Physicist, has defied time and doctor’s pronouncements that he would not live 2-years beyond his 21 years of age when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The symptoms are very similar to those of CP; Hawking cannot walk, talk, breathe easy, swallow and has difficulty in holding up his head.
But he is still beating life at its own game. Confined to a wheelchair, he uses a special computer to transfer his thoughts into a readable form, which he himself reads with an electronic voice support system. A Ph. D from Cambridge, Stephen Hawkings fascination for the study of the Universe and laws governing it, has only grown with the passage of time.
His book A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes explains many of his physical and mathematical ideas, and calculations without using math. The book, a best seller was later made into a movie.
Signing the Declaration of Independence from Rhode Island, Stephen said, My hand may shake but my heart does not.
Jhamak Ghimire: What Helen Keller was to India, Jhamak Ghimire is to Nepal. Born in 1980 with Cerebral Palsy, Ghimire did not let it get her down. Despite all odds, she learnt to read and write and went on to become one of the most leading, and respected literary figures of Nepal.
Greg Walloch, Chris Fonseca and Geri Jewell combated CP to become the finest comedians, actors and performers. Geri is still remembered for her role in the television show, ‘The Facts of Life’.
Chris Nolan and Christy Brown: eminent Irish Writers /Poets. Christy Brown’s life formed the backdrop of the Academy Award winning film, ‘My Left Foot’. He typed and painted with his left foot, to which the film owes its name.
Thomas Ritter, Attorney and Brother of Actor John Ritter, helped start United Cerebral Palsy Associations Inc., Anne McDonald is an Australian Writer and Social Critic; Ruth Senkenwitz Mercer, Writer/Lecturer; Gaby Brimmer, overcame the challenges of severe Cerebral Palsy, by writing novels using her left foot; John Callahan is a quadriplegic cartoonist; Arthur Campbell Jr. was a stout advocate of his rights as a CP individual; Dan Keplinger paints using his head pointer, while Christopher Nolen, a novelist, uses his head pointer to type out his novelist.
Such is their spirit to be free, and not shackled by disabilities. What needs to be seen is the person, not the disability!
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