On December 3 we celebrated all those living with disability and working to live their best live, chasing dreams and passions.

We are proud to be working with such inspirational individual every day and being a part of their journey.

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations sanctioned day that is celebrated internationally on 3 December. It aims to promote public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability.  

IDPwD represents a significant opportunity for Australian organisations to share their commitment, campaigns, leadership and stories of empowerment related to inclusion of people with disability in the workforce. 

More information can be found by following the link – International Day of People with Disability 2020 · Events · Australian Network on Disability (and.org.au)

We shared on our social media last week some great achievements made by those living with a disability and thought that we would share more in this blog, achievement made by both international and Australian individuals.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo is a renowned artist famous for her imaginative style and self-portraits. As a child, Frida was diagnosed with polio and, according to some accounts, she also had Spina Bifida. The famous artist was severely injured during a bus accident which left her with recurring physical pain for the rest of her life.

Despite her limited mobility and recurring pain, Frida Kahlo still emerged as one of the most influential and famous artists of the 20th Century.

John Nash

John Nash was a decorated mathematician who made crucial contributions to geometry and game theory. During his adult life, John began to exhibit symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia and was admitted to several mental health institutes.

However, the acclaimed mathematician managed to overcome his disability and resume his successful career as an academic, being awarded with a Nobel Prize in Academics in 1994. John Nash’s incredible story is documented in the Academy Award-winning film, ‘A Beautiful Mind’.

Stephen Hawking

As one of the world’s most inspirational scientists, Stephen Hawking is famous for his contributions to theoretical physics and cosmology. When he was 21, Stephen was diagnosed with a progressive form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Despite being given a life expectancy of 2 years; Stephen is now 75 years old and has continued to work as a scientist and only recently retired as a Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.

Over time, Stephen Hawking’s disease resulted in comprehensive muscular paralysis, severely limiting his mobility and communication. However, Stephen was able to overcome the debilitating effects of ALS; using sensors on his neck to control a specialised powered wheelchair and communicating via a predictive voice synthesiser. The emotional and motivational story of Stephen Hawking’s life as a scientist, disability rights activist and family man, were broadcast to an international audience in the acclaimed romantic drama: ‘The Theory of Everything’. Stephen is scheduled to be the first person with ALS to travel to space after being given a seat on the Virgin Galactic spaceflight.

Alex Zanardi

Alex Zanardi is a celebrated Italian racing driver and successful Paralympian. The Italian sportsman has competed in several professional races, including: Formula One, sports car racing and the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series. Alex life was turned upside down when both of his legs were amputated after being involved in a terrible accident during a CART race.

Three years after his accident, Alex made his return to racing, driving a modified BMW that he had adapted with hand controls. Despite the challenges of his physical disability, Alex has gone on to win four World Touring Car Championships. In 2007, Alex switched sports and began training as a professional cyclist, using an adapted hand cycle. Since the switch, Alex has competed in two Paralympic Games and has won three gold medals.

Louise Sauvage, OAM

Louise Sauvage played all sorts of sports when she was young, swimming at three years of age, and competing in wheelchair sports by the age of eight. She took up wheelchair racing at 15 and would go on to become one of the Australia’s greatest athletes. In her first ever IPC World Championships in 1990 she won gold AND broke a new world record. This was just the start. Sauvage has too many highlights to name, but they include nine gold and four silver Paralympic medals across every distance from 100m to 5000m, as well as many prestigious road race titles, including four Boston marathons and two Berlin marathons. 

As a result of her outstanding sporting success, Sauvage was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and the Australian Paralympic Hall of Fame. Sauvage has been instrumental in helping to give athletes with a disability the profile they deserve and earning the same level of respect as their able bodied counterparts. 

Dylan Alcott, OAM

Dylan Alcott’s name is synonymous with Australian sport.

In 2008 Alcott won a Paralympic gold medal, and in 2012 a silver medal with Australia’s wheelchair basketball team the Rollers. At the 2016 Paralympics, Alcott won a second gold Paralympic medal, this time in wheelchair tennis! His tennis career has since taken off, and in 2019 Alcott was the first man to win the inaugural Wimbledon quad wheelchair singles championship, as well as the Australian open and the French Open Championships. This means that for 2019, Dylan Alcott holds all Grand Slam singles titles, and a total of nine Grand Slam singles trophies all up. We could go on and on. 

Off the sporting field Alcott has also excelled across a number of fields. He set up the Dylan Alcott foundation, a charity that aims to help “young Australians with disabilities gain confidence, fulfill their potential and achieve their dreas… by eliminating the barriers of entry to get involved in sport and study”. He also won a Silver Logie for Best New Talent for his work hosting the TV show ‘The Set’. We don’t think we could love Dylan Alcott any more.

Kurt Fearnley, AO 

What hasn’t Kurt Fearnley achieved? Over a 20 year career, he has won over 30 marathons, three Paralympic gold medals and two Commonwealth Games gold medals. He won the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race with Investec Loyal in 2012, and completed the Kokoda Track to raise awareness for men’s health in 2009. Kurt Fearnely is also a powerful disability advocacy and invovled in a number charitable initiatives, as well as on boards as diverse as the Australian Paralympic Committee  to the NSW Australia Day Council.

Kurt Fearnley shows that the sky is the limit for anyone who wants to have a go and who will never give up. 

We thank the amazing individuals who trust us to help them daily and will continue to strive to do our best. If we can help you or someone you know please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Regards,

On the Road Physiotherapy Team.

References:

8 Examples of Famous People with Disabilities | Sunrise Medical

5 Outstanding Australian Athletes Living with Disability | famous people with disabilities | Access for All Abilities (aaavic.org.au)