Nothing extraordinary was ever done by an ordinary person. Here are some of the most extraordinary and inspirational people who ever lived.
When she was only six years old, Frida Kahlo contracted polio, which left her right leg thinner than her left. Afflicted by other illnesses and life-long chronic pain, she would spend hours recovering in hospitals by painting self-portraits. Her work combines her heritage of Mexico with political and social commentary that even today resonates with people around the world.
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh is regarded as one of the best artists in history. While he suffered from depression and anxiety – results of his bipolar disorder, he was able to channel his emotional depth into his art.
At age 16, Michael Monaco was injured in a car accident and became a quadriplegic. Occupational therapists taught him how to sign his name by holding pens and pencils in his mouth. Soon after he got into painting and has been featured in exhibits all across the world.
A horse-riding accident gone wrong left actor Christopher Reeve paralyzed. He used his fame to bring attention to spinal cord injuries. In spite of his injury, his acting career continued, and he starred in and produced the reproduction of Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock.
Known for her work in the show American Horror Story, Jamie Brewer is an American actress with Down syndrome. Growing up around the arts and theatre she always loved to act and has been featured in PSAs that have been featured in the Super Bowl. She was the first woman with Down syndrome to walk the red carpet at Fashion Week.
Known for playing Walter White’s son in Breaking Bad, R.J. Mitte always wanted to be an actor and always finds opportunities that allow him to educate people about cerebral palsy. His character, Walter “Flynn” White Jr., skyrocketed cerebral palsy into the public eye. He’s even a celebrity ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy.
Considered to be one of America’s greatest authors, Ernest Hemingway has written many classics including The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea. Though he battled with bipolar disorder, he was able to write many books that have left a lasting cultural impact on American literature.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
A well-known author and friend of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald is the author of the beloved classic The Great Gatsby. What many people don’t know is that he was also dyslexic. But even so, he was able to overcome his disability and is regarded as an icon of the roaring 20’s.
In college, Laura Hillenbrand fell ill and was unable to finish her degree. She was soon diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Left weak from her illness, she was able to write acclaimed books such as Seabiscuit: An American Legend and Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.
Ludwig van Beethoven
While widely regarded as one of the masters of classical music, Ludwig van Beethoven was deaf in his later years. Though already an established and accomplished musician at the time of his hearing loss, he was so well trained in his craft that he was able to write many pieces without the use of his ears.
Though he lost his sight at age 7, Ray Charles went on to become a famous American musician. Known for his powerful songs like Georgia On My Mind and I Can’t Stop Loving You, he is regarded as one of the most important artists in American culture.
Teddy Pendergrass, most notable as the lead singer for the group Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed. He went on to have a successful solo career.
A mathematician, astronomer, and physicist Isaac Newton’s work has been foundational in the science community. Though he suffered from psychosis, his research in physics resulted in the laws of universal gravitation and calculus.
Tesla showed symptoms of high-functioning autism, severe insomnia, and chronic depression from a young age. He is credited for having designed over 300 inventions such as the X-ray, radio, tesla coil, and A/C motor.
The theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) when he was only 21. He went on to do research on general relativity and gravitational singularity theorems. His work was groundbreaking, and Hawking received many awards in his lifetime.
Alexis Schaffer received her undergraduate degree in psychology and is a registered nurse. In her free time she teaches yoga and writes for various online publications. She’s also the proud dog mom of a beagle named Dobby.