Friday, November 11, 2016

The Severity of One's Disabilities Does Not Determine Potential

“The severity of one’s disability does not determine their level of potential. The greatest barriers that persons with disabilities have to overcome are not steps or curbs, it’s expectations.” Karen Clay

A premier case in point of a person not allowing physical disabilities or hurdles to get in his way is Stephen William Hawking. Stephen suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is more commonly known as Lou Gherig’s disease. It is debilitating and doctors did not expect Hawking to live a full life. They predicted he would live only two and a half years. These two and a half years were not expected to be fruitful as it was predicted that his level of disability would be too vast to overcome. Stephen William Hawking did not set his expectations too high; rather he kept proceeding with one foot after the other. He never allowed himself to be sidetracked by what his own personal limitations were. I often think of him whenever a feat seems as though it may be too large for me to accomplish. Stephen Hawking never allowed himself to stop attempting to be as functional as he could possibly be despite any physical hardship that he was faced to endure. His physical faculties were stripped of him one by one over the years. There was an incredibly inspiring autobiography released based on his heroic life. As a disabled citizen I am enamored at how “normally” he has been able to life his life despite his progressively worsening state. People know of Stephen Hawking because of the intellectual strides that he has been able to make. He has been able to make groundbreaking discoveries despite all of the things that he has going against him. Jane Wilde and Hawking eventually divorced but they stayed close for their children. I am more impressed how Stephen always intellectually furthered himself and did not allow himself to be sidetracked by his incredibly daunting physical ailments. I think that people come along who represent a cause bigger than themselves. The awareness and advocacy that Stephen Hawking represents is incredible for the ALS community. Just by being who he is Stephen Hawking represents a sentiment of courage and perseverance. I hope that I can represent a small portion of what he represents to people. He has a true celebrity status at this point for the feats that he has tackled. He represents an incredible example of what can be accomplished when a person does not allow his/ her disability to determine how much they are able to achieve in life. I thank you very much for reading and I hope that my words can serve as some encouragement for each one of you as you keep moving forward. I welcome any thoughts that you may have.

~Noelle

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