There is a saying that there is an ability in disability and even though it is said, few of them are able to turn their handicap into an advantage. Disabilities are not limited to race, gender, creed, status or fame (there are famous people with disabilities); they can happen to anyone and for most it becomes a death sentence, the end of existence. However, there are others who learn to channel their inner abilities and in doing so overcome their physical limitations.
Drawn from various parts of the world and from different fields, these famous disabled people managed to defy all difficulties and leave their mark on the earth. Now let’s take a look at the lives of 10 famous people who lived with a disability, but were able to achieve a lot in their lifetime.
Famous people with disabilities whose footprints are felt around the world
1. Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was arguably one of Mexico’s most talented (visual) artists. She was born in Coyocan, Mexico on July 6, 1907. She is of mixed ethnicity, German, Native American, and Spanish. Her father was a German photographer who moved to Mexico when he married her mother. She attended the prestigious National Preparatory School in Mexico City but before that she was struck down with polio and was bedridden for 9 months. The disease also scarred her, as one of her legs became thinner than the other. Once cured, Frida Kahlo always covered her legs with long cloths, but that did not stop her from walking with a limp.
At school, she was a bold and courageous young woman who held strong political views. Her love for painting began when she was involved in a horrific bus accident with her lover, Gomez Arias. She was terribly injured and spent several weeks in the hospital recovering. She then returned home to recuperate and that’s when she started painting. Soon what started as a way to escape the circumstances she found herself in became a long career.
Frida continued to paint and even married a muralist. She has many symbolic works, including her 1939 painting titled The Frame. It was the first Mexican portrait purchased by a renowned international museum, the Louvre. During her life and because of the accident, she underwent 32 different surgeries, most of which were a disaster. She also suffered emotional pain from her miscarriages due to the accident. Even so, she went on to become one of the greatest artists Mexico has ever produced.
2. Stevie Wonder
Music icon, Stevie Wonder was born StevlandHardaway Judkins. He was born in Saginaw, Michigan on May 13, 1950. He is a child prodigy born into the family of Calvin Judkins and songwriter Lula Mae Hardaway. Stevie was born 6 weeks premature and had a condition called retinopathy of prematurity. His eye condition worsened when he was placed in an incubator where he received too much oxygen, which blinded the infant. What a sad event for his family, however, everything was about to change when he started showing signs of musical potential at an early age.
By age 4, he had become a singer sensation, handing out renditions to a congregation in Detroit, Michigan. Besides that, he had also started playing several instruments, all of them self-taught before the age of 10. The incredible story continues as the blind American musician signed his first label deal at the age of 11. several hit songs, some of which reached the top spots on the R&B and Pop charts.
Besides being a songwriter, musician and multi-instrumentalist, he has also produced music. About 30 of his songs have ranked in the top 10 spots on various discussions in the United States. He has won the prestigious Grammy Awards 25 times, among other accolades. He is a true legend who did not allow his disability to limit his achievements.
Stephen Hawking was one of the greatest cosmologists and theoretical physicists the world has ever known. He was born on January 8, 1942 in Oxford, London, to the family of Frank and Isobel Eileen Hawking. Her mother’s family members were mostly doctors, which came as no surprise when her father asked her to study medicine. However, he did not study medicine, but physics at his parents’ alma mater – the University of Oxford. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or motor neurone disease (MND).
When Stephen was diagnosed with this disease, he had just graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Oxford and despite the disease, he completed his Masters and later earned a PhD. He is popular for his work on the Big Bang theory, quantum mechanics, black holes and the theory of relativity. He has also written books that explain various aspects of these fields.
He made a significant impact in the field of science and physics despite his inability to walk or talk. He spent most of his life in a wheelchair and could only communicate with text-to-speech software but made such an impact that he was considered the most brilliant physicist after Albert Einstein.
4. Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig is one of the greatest classical musicians of all time, and he is still celebrated by his city through festivals. He was born on December 16, 1770 in Bonn, Germany. He was born into the family of Johann and Maria Magdalena van Beethoven and is the eldest of his three siblings. His father was a musician who taught Ludwig to play instruments. At 12, Ludwig plays the piano very well.
Soon after, he became an instrumentalist and composer, then became deaf at the age of 30. His deafness affected his social life, but did not prevent him from becoming one of the greatest musicians ever born. Before his death in Vienna, he continued to compose and make music, although he could not hear his own songs.
5. RJ Mitte
Movie actor, model and producer, RJ Mitte has proven that there may be capacity for disability. He was born on August 21, 1992 in Jackson, Mississippi, Roy Frank Mitte. He was operated on and never knew his parents. When he was born, he was not breathing, which resulted in irreversible brain damage. This eventually resulted in mild cerebral palsy, diagnosed when she was three years old. He was raised by his adoptive parents, Roy Frank Mitte Jr. and Dyna Mitte.
Due to his condition, his legs were not straight so he had to work with leg braces and crutches for most of his childhood. At the age of 13, he was given the responsibility of caring for his mother and sister when his parents separated. In 2006, he became interested in acting and starred in the film Walter White Jr, a character with cerebral palsy. Breaking Bad. It was a breakthrough role for him as he received an award for his part and also performed for actors with disabilities under the Inclusion in Arts and Media umbrella of performers with disabilities.
6. Helen Keller
Helen Keller was a writer and an activist. She was born into the family of Colonel Arthur Keller and Kate Adams. Many know her as a blind and deaf woman, but she was not born that way. She became deaf and blind 19 months after her birth, following an unknown illness. She was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Due to her condition, Helen has become a rude and troublesome young girl. She frequently threw tantrums and was a problem at home.
However, Helen Keller’s life would change for the better when she met Anne Mansfield Sullivan at the age of six. Anne helped control Hélène’s unruly behavior and also taught her the words. She quickly learned the alphabets and began to read and write. She also developed a desire to go to school. This desire came true when she was admitted to Radcliffe College in 1900. She graduated a few years later and became the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college with an undergraduate degree. After graduating, he started writing and publishing 12 books. She was also an activist for women’s rights and workers’ rights.
Franklin Roosevelt is most popular for being the 32nd President of the United States of America. He was born on January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, to businessman James Roosevelt and his second wife, Sara Ann Delano. His family was one of the wealthy families at that time in America. He went to some of the best schools, held jobs in various fields, but ended up becoming a politician.
He entered politics in 1910 as a Democrat and was elected President of the United States for a record four times. Unfortunately, in August 1921, Roosevelt was stricken with an illness that would change the course of his life forever. He suffered from poliomyelitis and had other symptoms such as fever, facial paralysis, bowel and bladder dysfunction, numbness, etc. That didn’t stop him from achieving a lot, though. As President of the United States, he was credited with helping the United States emerge from the Great Depression and World War II. It is also linked to the defeat of the German Nazi government and Japanese militarism.
8. Sudha Chandran
Sudha Chandran is an Indian actress and dancer born in the Indian city of Mumbai on September 21, 1965. She was born to a former actor, KD Chandran – the identity of her mother is unknown. She was blessed with a father who values education, which led to her earning her first degree from Mithibai College, Mumbai, and then a master’s degree in economics.
When Sudha was 16, she was involved in a horrible car accident. This caused him to be injured in both legs and later resulted in the amputation of his right leg due to the growth of gangrene. This handicap was mitigated by the use of a prosthetic foot to facilitate his mobility. Years later she started dancing again and this time she danced in many countries all over the world. She has also had a career in film and television and has won several awards for her work over the years.
Stephen Wiltshire is a very impressive artist who is best known for the drawings of cityscapes he draws from memory. The amazing phenomenon in his work is that he can only draw a place after seeing it once. This feature has earned him great popularity.
The artist was born in London in 1974Caribbean parents. He was born mute and at the age of three. he was diagnosed with autism. Autism is basically a developmental disorder of a person that creates difficulty in interacting and communicating. Her interest in the arts began at the age of five. He was honored in 2006 when he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
10. Peter Longstaff
Farmer-turned-artist Peter Longstaff is one of those famous people who have intrigued us with their story. Peter was born without arms due to his mother’s use of a drug called thalidomide. She took it to cure her morning sickness. She had no idea she would have such an effect on her future child.
Peter became a farmer but soon turned to painting when his farm was sold. He paints with his feet and his works have been recognized worldwide. His works include snow-covered bridges, trees, etc. His paintings over the years have been reproduced in calendars and Christmas cards.