Growing Up with a Disability: Secrets to Achieving Success

Set Your Standards High and Do Not Accept Less for Yourself

Rice University, September 12, 1962

Reflections Fifty Years Later: Centennial Historian Melissa Kean and Douglas Brinkley, fellow in history at Rice University’s Baker Institute.


The challenge to explore our universe though idealistic for its time; was only apart of a much larger agenda. The overwhelming incentive for advancing the US Space Program was indeed, a race against the Soviet Union to preserve The United States’ predominance as a world power.

As President Kennedy spoke challenging a generation of young people to pursue careers that would be necessary to advance a successful exploration into space; dark clouds were looming. A war was brewing on the continent of Southeast Asia that would soon consume much of our energies as a nation for well over a decade and come to divide our spirits. This generation would now be called upon to serve for the cause of freedom in a land far away.

The harsh realities of war were seen up close and personal for the first time in the history of civilization. Electronic media now served as the main conduit to the public square of information and court of public opinion. This would prove to be a game changer for politics, government policy and world view.

We as a nation would be forced to address head on, the issues of racial equality to a people long overdue. The road to the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act would not be an easy one. The Freedom Marches were a vivid reminder of our shameful past and a symbol of hope for a future with equality for all. Tragically, three of our leaders would fall to an assassin’s bullet. The decade of the 1960s would prove to be one the most divisive since the Civil War for our nation.

However, one date triumphs and unites a nation if for only a brief moment in time. The world looked on in true admiration to what was at the time, a magnificent display of American ingenuity and a tremendous source of pride.

July 20th 1969, 4:17:40 P.M – A Defining Moment in Human History.

hen Excellence Triumphs Over Adversity:

Neil Armstrong’s First Steps On The Moon


The Correlation is this:

One of my favorite quotes is from President John F. Kennedy’s Moon Speech: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

In September 1962, I was beginning 1st grade as a student with a visual disability. I have a rare genetic retina defect microphthalmos coloboma of the Iris. As a person with a disability; here are some of the things I have learned along the way.

“And the journey begins.”


It takes a village:

Sulphur Springs Baptist Church, Marion, KY.
Sulphur Springs Baptist Church, Marion KY.

All too often, children with disabilities are marginalized. A child’s experience of failure and lack of self worth is a recipe for failures in his or her adult life. I credit my church and elementary school in recognizing my gifts and strengths. Those words of encouragement were the building blocks of my life. They would later prove instrumental in my career path.

Disabilities challenge us to do the hard things in life; not because they are easy but because they are hard. More will be required of you than the average person. This may not seem fair but it is the assignment in life you have been given. At the end of the day, it is more about the journey of self discovery than about our disabilities. In the ancient book of Jeremiah, we find these words ” For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)

Learn from those who have traveled this road before you.

Many of you possess the abilities and talents to exceed and accomplish well beyond your limitations. The key is finding something you really love to do and becoming good at it. The feeling of accomplishment greatly contributes to self confidence and self worth. Discover your talents and perfect them. Your abilities and talents will propel you forward in life.

We all can not sing like the world class Opera tenor Andrea Bocelli or Pop singer Stevie Wonder, explore universal theory like the famed physicist Stephen Hawking, design great tech products like Apple co-founder Steve Jobs or lead a nation in its finest hour like Franklin Delano Roosevelt. However, people with disabilities posses the courage and determination to accomplish many things and rise above mediocrity.

There will be naysayers, people who think your dreams are impossible considering your disabilities. Be persistent. The journey may be long and difficult at times but you will get there, one step at a time!

Isaiah 40:31 NIV. but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not be faint.

Elvis Presley ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ youtube 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

When you walk through a storm Hold your head up high And don’t be afraid of the dark

At the end of a storm There’s a golden sky And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind Walk on through the rain Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on With hope in your heart And you’ll…

Walk on, walk on With hope in your heart And you’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk alone

Walk on, walk on With hope in your heart And you’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk alone

Oscar Hammerstein Ii / Richard Rodgers









Written in support of The US Department of Labor – What Can You Do Campaign for the Employment of People with Disabilities.

One thought on “Growing Up with a Disability: Secrets to Achieving Success

  1. Pingback: Growing Up with A Disability: Lessons in Life |

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