United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities is annually observed on December 3 to focus on issues that affect people with disabilities worldwide.
Many famous personalities, who were either born with disability or they met with tragic incidents, have made a place for themselves in the world. [PM Narendra Modi salutes the spirit of disabled persons, calls them 'heroes']
Their never-say-die-attitude has served as an undying inspiration and motivation for those who have to battle with disabilities.
Many of them are legendary actors, spots-persons, politicians, musicians, athletes, artists and writers. They have chosen a challenging public life with dignity, by defying all odds and turning the spotlight on themselves. [Government plans to set up panel for welfare of differently abled]
There are some lesser-known people with disabilities, whose awe-inspiring stories are worth knowing. [Mentally ill women 'treated worse than animals' in India]
So, here, let's look into the lives of some of the brave and extraordinary people, who are the living legends in their own way and deserve a salute for their indomitable spirit:
1. Bharat Kumar
Disability: Born with right hand only
Bharat Kumar was born with a right hand by birth, but his physical disability never dissuade him from pursuing his dreams. Born on Dec 10, 1989, Bharat Kumar, a world champion, has made Bharat (India) proud by winning over 50 medals in para- swimming contests.
Achievements: He has won two international titles, one silver at the IWAS World Junior Athletics Championships in Ireland and one gold medal and over 40 national level medals. Young Bharat has flown to countries like England, Ireland, Holland, Malaysia and China to participate in swimming contests.
2. Sudha Chandran
The renowned Indian classical dancer and TV actress Sudha Chandran met an accident, at the age of 17, when she was travelling from Mumbai to Chennai. In the tragedy, she lost her left leg that had to be amputated. But, the brave woman did not give up her indomitable spirit and continued to fulfill her dream and profession with the help of Jaipur foot.
Achievement: A film was made on the basis of her real life story called "Nache Mayuri", where she played her character.
She has been honored with numerous awards and has performed all over the world. She acts in a variety of TV serials.
3. Arunima Sinha
Disability: Amputee. 27-year-old Arunima Sinha lost her left leg in an unfortunate incident on April 11, 2011.
Achievement: Despite the fact that she lost a leg, she did not gave up the spirit of her life and defied all conceivable odds.
Infact, Arunima decided to convert her weakness into her biggest strength and by her true determination, on May 21, 2013, she achieved the rare feat to become the first Indian amputee to conquer the Mount Everest, with the help of a prosthetic leg.
Beside setting an example to the world, Arunima also made India, a proud nation when she hoisted the Indian tricolour flag at the peak of the Mount Everest. [Arunima Sinha on conquering Mount Everest]
A former national level volleyball player and football player, she lost her left leg when she was thrown off a moving train by some hoodlums two years ago.
4. Preethi Srinivasan
Disability: Became Quadriplegic at the age of 18 on 11th July, 1998.
Achievement: Preethi Srinivasan, who was the captain of the under-19 Tamil Nadu women's cricket team during its only victory in a national tournament in 1997 and a champion in swimming, has defeated her disabilities with her strong will.
Wheel-chair bound 34-year-old Preethi has an NGO called Soulfree, where she imparts lessons of hope to those women who suffer from various kind of physical disabilities.
She gives inspirational and motivational speeches at various institutions.
5. Girish Sharma
Disability: Lost one leg in a train accident, when he was just 2 years old.
Achievement: Girish Sharma, a badminton champion, has proved that no matter whatever the circumstances are, you can still be a Champion in your preferred field in your life.
The determined boy never let his disability to 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, Badminton with normal children of 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.
Besides, he has also played in Israel, Thailand and in Germany. But shockingly, his commendable out-of-the-world efforts have never been recognised by the Indian government.
Disability: Suffers from rare motor neuron disease and speaks with the help of a voice synthesiser. When he was 21 years old, the doctors declared that he would not survive more than 2 or 3 years.
He was born on January 8, 1942 and was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
In 2009, he lost his control over different parts of the body including arms, legs and voice and at the end of 2009, he totally became paralysed.
Achievement: One of the most brilliant scientists alive, wheelchair-bound British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, attended Oxford University in England, as an undergraduate student. He received his Ph.D in 1966 from Cambridge University.
By the time he was 35 years old, Hawking was Cambridge's first Gravitational Physics professor and received the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics award. [Artificial intelligence could end humanity, warns Stephen Hawking]
Stephen Hawking has also published a book called A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.
7. Helen Keller
Disability: Born as a blind, deaf, and mute on June 27, 1880
Achievement: Author, political activist and lecturer Helen Keller devoted her life to persons with disabilities, thus becoming an inspiration to many disabled persons.
A prolific author, Keller travelled to at least 39 countries. She campaigned for women's suffrage, workers' rights, socialism and many other social causes.
She passed away on June 1, 1968.
Disability: Born on March 14, 1879 and had a learning disability and did not speak until age 3. He had a very difficult time doing maths in school. It was also very hard for him to express himself through writing. Was severely dyslexic and autistic.
Achievement: The great Albert Einstein fought his disability and entered into the world of theoretical physics where he changed the face of physics and science forever. His theory of relativity is said to be the most revolutionary theory of physics. He won a Nobel Prize for his photoelectric effect theory in 1921.
He passed away on April 18, 1955.
9. Robin Williams
Disability: Born on July 21, 1951, Robin Williams suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) as a child.
Achievement: The actor and comedian Robin Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as therapist Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. He received 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Golden Globe Awards, 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards and 5 Grammy Awards.
On August 11, 2014, Williams committed suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, California.
10. Tom Cruise
Disability: He has a learning disability that alters the way the brain process written material. He showed signs of a learning disability beginning in grade school, says he finally learned to read as an adult through Study Technology,
Achievement: The Hollywood hearthrob star, who was severely dyslexic, has been nominated for 3 Academy Awards and has won 3 Golden Globe Awards. He started his career at age 19 and is immensely popular star with along list of successful movies.
11. Abhishek Bachchan
Disability: Dyslexic in his childhood and attended a special school.
Achievement: Eventually, Abhishek overcame the disorder and went on to become a classic actor. His father and Bollywood legend Amitabh Bacchan too miraculously survived a fatal accident in 1982 on the sets of film "Coolie", but, with his strong determination, he still rules the Indian film industry.