Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Overcoming Adversity
A recent Sacramento Bee article about Sacramento volunteers helping to make Sheila Granda’s house wheelchair accessible,” caught my attention. It’s a remarkable story about helping others, but what really got my attention is the fact that, although this 33-year-old woman, was “left paralyzed from the neck down in a 1997 rollover accident at the age of 17, a few months before she was supposed to start college,” she subsequently managed to overcome
her handicap and become a lawyer.
“‘We never thought I’d get out of the hospital after I was injured,’ said Granda, who works for the state Department of Health Care Services. Those first three to five years, we did not know what would happen if I lived, if I’d have any quality of life at all.’”
Sheila Granda is not the only example of people who manage to overcome adversity and lead productive lives.
Following are some other examples of people who also managed to overcome their disabilities:
Charles Krauthammer: An American Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, political commentator, and physician. His column is syndicated to more than 350 newspapers and media outlets. He is a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard, a weekly panelist on the PBS news program Inside Washington, and a nightly panelist on Fox News's “Special Report” with Bret Baier. 
Krauthammer was raised in Montreal, Quebec, where he attended McGill University and obtained an honors degree in political science and economics in 1970. The following year, he was a Commonwealth Scholar in politics at Balliol College, Oxford, before returning to the United States and entering Harvard Medical School.
During Krauthammer's first year of medical school, he was paralyzed in a diving accidentand was hospitalized for 14 months. However, he continued his medical studies and graduated with his class, earning his MD in 1975. From 1975 to 1978, Krauthammer was a resident and then a chief resident in psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Steven Hawking: Afflicted with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Hawking is considered one of the world’s greatest theoretical physicists, originally positing the theory of “Black Holes” to explain the creation and expansion of the Universe. His speech is generally unintelligible, and his caretaker must interpret his sounds, but in spite of his handicap, he managed to write one of the definite works on physics.
Irena Sendler: One of the many heroes and heroines of WWII. A woman of uncommon principle and courage who, for two years during the Nazi occupation of Poland, helped rescue some 2,500 Jewish infants and children from the Polish Ghetto, often hiding them from the Nazi guards, risking her own life in the process.
Muhammad Ali: The most famous African-American of his time, Ali is still among the most widely recognized faces on the planet. During the Vietnam War, he refused to serve in the United States Army, on the grounds that considered himself to be a conscientious objector. He was prevented from fighting for three-and-a-half years, but ultimately regained his title in 1974, defeating the then champion, George Foreman, in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Today, at age 72, as he is dealing
with the ravages of Parkinson’s disease, Ali is a living example of character and grace.
Helen Keller: When she was 19 months old she contracted an illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain", which might have been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last very long, but it left her deaf and blind.
Her parents were advised to contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind, which was then located in South Boston. The school's director, Michael Anagnos, asked former student Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired and only 20 years old, to become Keller's instructor. It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship, Sullivan evolving into governess and then eventual companion.
Keller wrote a total of 12 published books and several articles.
One of her earliest pieces of writing, at age 11, was “The Frost King” (1891). There were allegations that this story had been plagiarized from “The Frost Fairies” by Margaret Canby. An investigation into the matter revealed that Keller may have experienced a case of cryptomnesia, which was that she had Canby's story read to her but forgot about it, while the memory remained in her subconscious.
At age 22, Keller published her autobiography, “The Story of My Life” (1903), with help from Sullivan and Sullivan's husband, John Macy. It includes words that Keller wrote and the story of her life up to age 21, and was written during her time in college.
In 2908, Keller wrote “The World I Live In,” giving readers an insight into how she felt about the world. “Out of the Dark,” a series of essays on Socialism, was published in 1913.
© 2013-2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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