One thing that’s common among all the people on this list is that physical limitations never stopped them from achieving their dreams. It’s their never-say-die-attitude that has inspired millions across the world and shown that half the battle is in the head. Here are the true legends who didn’t let their disability stop them from conquering the world.
1. Sai Prasad Vishwanathan
Sai Prasad Vishwanathan is India’s first disabled skydiver. As a child, he suffered a loss of sensation in the lower half of his body. But that did not stop him from following his passion. He is the first Indian with a disability to skydive from 14,000 ft. He also co-founded Sahasra, an organisation that provides scholarships to financially disadvantaged students to pursue higher studies. In 2013, he became the first Indian with a disability to travel to Antarctica.
2. Preethi Srinivasan
Preethi Srinivasan broke stereotypes like a boss when she was the first under-19 Tamil Nadu women’s cricket team captain. Srinivasan was left paralyzed below the neck, after she suffered an accident while swimming. The hardship she faced after the incident inspired her to establish an NGO called Soulfree for women with disabilities. The aim of the organisation is to help build the self-esteem of disabled victims and guide them towards achieving their dreams.
3. Akbar Khan
Khan was born visually-impaired, in a poor family in Rajasthan, but despite his disability, he continued his studies with the support of his older brother who was also visually-impaired. He was the first visually-impaired candidate to qualify in the SSC Hindi shorthand and stenography examination.
He has not only served as a senior manager with Punjab National Bank, but is also a talented singer and composer. He was honoured with a National Award for being the most efficient handicapped employee.
4. Javed Abidi
Abidi was diagnosed with spina bifidia, a congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube. The conditional left him wheelchair-bound since the age of 15.
But despite his condition, he travelled abroad to study and become a journalist. He has been actively engaged with disability rights for years, and is the director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) in India.
5. Sadhna Dhand
For Sadhna Dhand, suffering from brittle bone disease did not come in the way of pursuing her favourite art form of painting. Her condition has resulted in close to 80 fractures so far and a hearing disability, making movement outside her home challenging.
The specially-baled artist from Raipur in Chhattisgarh was selected for ‘National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities 2012’ in the Role Model category.
6. Sparsh Shah
Sparsh Shah, a 12-year-old singing prodigy who lives in the US, was born with almost 40 fractures. He was born with an incurable disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta.
But he followed his passion as a rapper and music composer. He also gave an inspiring Ted Talk where he said, “If I can turn Impossible to I’m Possible, you can do it too.”
Sparsh, who lives in the US, writes songs, poems, short stories, composes music, and is also learning Indian classical and American vocal music. In his 14-minute-33-second-long talk, he spoke about how finding your passion and dreaming big can help anyone overcome the biggest impediments in life.
7. Girish Sharma
Girish Sharma met with a tragic train accident as a kid. One of his legs was amputated after the incident. But he never let his disability become an obstacle in achieving his goals.
In an interview, Girish was quoted as saying, “When I was a child, I used to play Cricket, Football, and Badminton with normal (sic) children my age. My disability was nowhere near in my mind. I enjoyed those games as much as a normal person does.”
Girish, who also rides bicycle, is the proud winner of the Gold Medal in Paraolympic Asia Cup for Disabled in India.
8. Sudha Chandran
The renowned Indian classical dancer and TV actress Sudha Chandran met with an accident, at the age of 17, after which she lost her left leg which had to be amputated. But that did not stop her from fulfilling her dream to become a dancer and an actress.
She got a prosthetic “Jaipur Foot” and she learned to perform Bharatanatyam with her prosthetic leg.
9. Major DP Singh
Major DP Singh was severely injured in Kargil during Operation Vijay and was almost declared dead at an Army hospital. But after getting his right leg amputated, he miraculously regained consciousness. After 10 painful years of recuperation, he started running with a prosthetic leg. Today is popularly known as ‘India’s Blade Runner.’
He has successfully run 12 marathons and even holds the Limca record for being the first Indian to run a half marathon with the blade .
10. Subhreet Kaur Ghumman
Subhreet lost her leg after a road accident in 2009. The young nurse needed seven operations on her leg after an infection set in. She turned her disability into a strength and surprised the world with her dancing skills with one leg. She found a dance school and auditioned for India’s Got Talent and won over the heart of the nation with her performance.
11. H Ramakrishnan
Ramakrishnan was affected by polio in both his legs at the age of 2. Despite that, he worked as a journalist for 40 years and CEO of SS Music television channel. He runs a charitable trust called Krupa to help those with disabilities.