“We are only as blind as we want to be.” Maya Angelou
1 out of every 5 Americans live with Some type of disability. More than 15 percent of the world’s population in large is disabled, and surprisingly, at least it was to me, 253 million of these are individuals with visual impairments.
These statistics may sound shocking, or perhaps you were already familiar with them. Either way it is easy to ignore numbers like this when the vast majority of the disabled don’t have much to do with us personally, and mostly remain faceless.
But what happens when you actually meet some of those disabled people? What happens when you find yourself speaking to them? What happens when you become more acutely aware that you are actually one of them yourself? When you are reminded that you are far from alone in the disabled world.
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in just this situation. I was invited to speak on a panel of disabled athletes at a fund raiser supporting the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). Each of us shared our stories of overcoming great odds and pursuing athletic endeavors despite the disabilities that could have held us back. We shared the stories of facing the challenges of being single and double amputees, experiencing life threatening spinal cord injury, and in my case, total blindness and hearing impairment. We talked of the dogged determination and persistence we have all had to employ to meet these challenges head on, and how CAF has helped make it possible.
It was a special night for everyone at the event. Even being disabled myself, the experience and stories moved and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that are out there for those who will choose to try. It put a face on the human spirit, showing me that nothing is impossible with determination, and the belief and help of others.
My friends, in realizing that we are only as blind as we want to be, let’s open wide our hearts and our eyes. Whatever the difficulties or hurdles that lie between you and your dreams, your extraordinary life, I challenge you to turn them into possibilities and opportunities. Don’t let a disabled body or spirit hold you back. Enable and unleash your beautiful spirit to become all that God created you to be, because when you do only the best is yet to come!