"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Paralympic Athletes Writing Next Chapter in Human Story

Reading the latest issue of the IWK's Village Voice this morning, I was struck by this piece by Warren Reed, a human rights activist in Halifax.

All 20 of the fastest times in the 2012 Boston Marathon belong to wheelchair racers. In fact, Canadian wheeler Joshua Cassidy (1:18:25) had time for a nap while waiting for Kenyan runner Wesley Korir (2:12:40) to finish. A luxurious 54 min-utes, to be exact. Gravity? The course does drop 425 feet in 26 miles — a barely noticeable three-tenths of one per cent grade — but that benefits runners and wheelers alike.

Meanwhile, the course has some daunting uphill stretches, and dragging an extra 15 pounds of wheelchair up Heartbreak Hill surely offsets any advantage from turning potential energy kinetic.

But this is apples and oranges, angels and pins. One shouldn’t be confused by the artificiality of divisions into thinking there is a single winner of the Boston Marathon, and then some women and then some wheelchairs. They’re all committed athletes, running the same race differently.

People with disabilities have a special perspective on difference — we are, in many ways, defined by it. Many of us embrace our differences as extraordinary gifts.

Some would say Stephen Hawking won a Nobel Prize in spite of his condition. People with more imagination might wonder if it’s because of his condition. Conventional thinkers see him as suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease. (Lou, by the way, was not a bad ball player.) I’d say Stephen Hawking is a pretty spectacular physicist and that there’s a decent chance his achieve¬ment is connected to his physical characteristics. At the very least, his circumstance provides an unusual perspective on the universe.

You can read the rest of the piece by clicking on the Weekly Update: September 7, 2012 link on this page. I would suggest that you do.

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