More than ever before, people with disabilities can cheer for and be inspired by athletes whose stories are more similar to their own. Disabled athletes are motivating people with physical and intellectual disabilities to participate in a broad range of physical activities.
Sometimes all you need is the right adaptive equipment. After losing a leg as a baby, Scout Bassett sets world records with her running prosthetic. For James Sa, a special wheelchair lets him excel at wheelchair rugby. Sometimes you need a sport in which you AND your service animal or guide can both participate. Christy Gardner, double amputee, and member of the U.S. women’s sled hockey team takes her service dog with her right on the rink. Partially-sighted, British cyclist Anthony Kappes, on the other hand, relies on the help of a human guide as he competes.
And sometimes you just have to believe you can do it. After grim projections from doctors as a child, Kim Chandler, a swimmer who has Down Syndrome, brought home a medal of each color from the 2014 Special Olympics.
All these athletes are extraordinary examples of perseverance and persistence. What makes them real heroes, though, is the example they are setting for people with disabilities as they advocate, teach, and share with others how they can do the same.