Individuals with disabilities have been inspiring me my whole life. I am so grateful that I have gotten the chance to know so many people with disabilities. As a matter of fact, I give much credit to these individuals for me being who I am today. There have been many times when I have been down or unmotivated to keep moving forward in my goals and dreams and these individuals have inspired me to keep moving on. 

At the age of just five years old I had two classmates with disabilities -  one was blind and the other, I am not sure exactly what kind of disability she had, but I remember that she could not talk clearly and had to use forearm crutches to walk. I became friends with both of these classmates and was able to watch and be inspired in how they overcame so many obstacles throughout elementary school and middle school.  Not only did the classmates inspire me but the parents did as well. I remember the parents of these individuals coming to class often to make sure that they had everything they needed to succeed. And succeed, they did! I am not sure where these two old friends are today but I know that they are succeeding in whatever they are doing and inspiring others in their day-to-day lives. 

Later on in life, I found myself through some rough times. I got knocked down pretty hard. I didn’t think I would recover. I didn't think I would find the strength or courage to get back up.  I won’t go into any more detail on my struggles but I pulled through by the grace of God. The inspiration that I needed came from an individual with no arms and no legs. He inspired me to get back up and keep going on with life. He lit a fire inside of me to live my dreams again. 

Over the past year, I have gotten to know another individual with a disability. He has dwarfism. This individual has helped me to understand how to truly love others and appreciate the differences in other people.  He has helped me grow my self-confidence and he daily inspires me to have fun and live life to the fullest. I watch this individual struggle with life because of his disability, while he remains patient, positive and keeps a great attitude no matter what.  

I could go on with many more impactful stories about other individuals that had some kind of disability and how they are overcoming all odds and inspiring others and I am sure that you could too.  If you ask me, I believe that these individuals are a gift from God. They are a blessing to us all. I just want to thank everyone that has a disability or is a caregiver of someone with a disability from the bottom of my heart. You are inspiring the world and changing the world. 

If you have a story you would like to share of how someone with a disability has impacted your life, please feel free to share in the comments or send us your story. 

 - Derek Brown, Territory Business Manager with PMF