A list of well known and famous people who use and used wheelchairs since birth and later in life due to disabilities.* * *
Information on Wheelchairs
A smart wheelchair uses an artificial control system which augments or replaces user control . Its purpose is to reduce or eliminate the task of driving a motorized wheelchair. Smart wheelchairs usually employ sonar, infrared sensors or laser rangefinders to detect obstacles and to ensure that the platform does not collide with them.
There are many types of wheelchairs, and they are often highly customized for the individual user’s needs. A mobility scooter is a motorized assist device, but with a steering ’tiller’ or bar instead of the joystick found on wheelchairs.
Stephen Hawking – Professor Stephen Hawking is a well-known example of a person with MND, and has lived for more than 40 years with the disease. Stephen Hawking: The internationally renowned Physicist, has defied time and doctor’s pronouncements that he would not live 2-years beyond his 21 years of age when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The symptoms are very similar to those of CP, Hawking cannot walk, talk, breathe easy, swallow and has difficulty in holding up his head. Hawking, 51, was told 30 years ago, when he was a not-very-remarkable college student.
F.D. Roosevelt – Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), He was the 32nd President of the United States. Elected to four terms in office, he served from 1933 to 1945, and is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms of office. In August 1921, while the Roosevelts were vacationing at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Roosevelt contracted an illness, at the time believed to be polio, which resulted in Roosevelt’s total and permanent paralysis from the waist down. Roosevelt refused to accept that he was permanently paralyzed. He tried a wide range of therapies, including hydrotherapy. Fitting his hips and legs with iron braces, he laboriously taught himself to walk a short distance by swiveling his torso while supporting himself with a cane. In private, he used a wheelchair, but he was careful never to be seen in it in public. In 2003, a peer-reviewed study found that it was more likely that Roosevelt’s paralytic illness was actually Guillain-Barre syndrome, not poliomyelitis.
Teddy Pendergrass – Theodore DeReese Pendergrass, Sr. (born March 26, 1950 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). Pendergrass’ career began when he was a drummer for The Cadillacs, which soon merged with Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Melvin invited Pendergrass to become the lead singer after he jumped from the rear of a stage and started singing his heart out. On March 18, 1982, in Philadelphia, Pendergrass was involved in an automobile accident when the brakes failed on his Rolls Royce and he hit a tree, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down with a spinal cord injury. After completing six months in rehabilitation, he returned to the studio to record the album Love Language, featuring the 1984 ballad “Hold Me”, a duet with a then-unknown Whitney Houston.
Christopher Reeve – Christopher D’Olier Reeve (September 25, 1952 – October 10, 2004) was an American actor, director, producer, and writer. He portrayed Superman – Kal-El – Clark Kent in four films, from 1978 to 1987. In the 1980s, he also starred in several films, including Somewhere in Time (1980), Deathtrap (1982), The Bostonians (1984), and Street Smart (1987). In May 1995, Christopher Reeve was paralyzed in an accident during an equestrian competition. He was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He lobbied on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries, and for human embryonic stem cell research after this accident. He founded the Christopher Reeve Foundation and co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. Reeve died at age 52 on October 10, 2004 from cardiac arrest caused by a systemic infection.
Itzhak Perlman – (born August 31, 1945) is an Israeli-American violinist, conductor, and pedagogue. He is one of the most distinguished violinists of the late 20th century. Perlman contracted polio at the age of four. He made a good recovery, learning to walk with the use of crutches. Today he uses a wheelchair or walks with the aid of crutches on his arms and plays the violin while seated. Critics say it is not the music alone that makes his playing so special. They say he is able to communicate the joy he feels in playing, and the emotions that great music can deliver.
Joni Eareckson Tada – An evangelical Christian author, radio host, and founder of Joni and Friends, an organization “accelerating Christian ministry in the disability community.” A diving accident in 1967 left Tada hospitalized and paralyzed (as a quadriplegic; unable to use her hands or legs.) After two years of rehabilitation and in a wheelchair, Tada began working to help others in similar situations. Tada wrote of her experiences in her international best-selling autobiography, Joni, which has been distributed in many languages, and which was made into a feature film of the same name.
John Charles Hockenberry – (born June 4, 1956) – A well-known, highly-regarded American journalist and author who has won four Emmy Awards and three Peabody Awards. Since starting at a local National Public Radio station in 1980, John has reported from all over the world, anchored programs for network TV and National Public Radio and reports/writes for magazines, newspapers and online media on a variety of topics. He is a sought-after speaker in the disability community. He sustained a spinal cord injury in a car crash at the age of 19, resulting in him being paralyzed from the chest down. In 2007, John was named a Distinguished Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab in Cambridge, MA. Since April 2008, he has been co-host of The Takeaway, a live national morning news program created by Public Radio International and WNYC New York. He is author of the amazing memoir “Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs and Declarations of Independence” and the novel “A River Out Of Eden”. He performed off-Broadway in “Spoke Man”, his one-man play based on his memoir.