For children with disabilities, life can present a series of challenges. But just because their lives aren’t “normal,” doesn’t mean these kids are letting their disabilities hold them back. Some of these kids have a spirit of resiliency that is not often matched. Check out this list of the most amazing kids who have used their huge spirits to overcome their disabilities.
Wait until you read about the special girl who isn’t letting her disability stop her from working towards joining the Olympics gymnastics team.
Meet Isaiah, The Wrestling Superstar
Fifth-grade Isaiah Bird has an attitude towards life that many adults could learn from. Isaiah was born without legs, but he has not let his disability hold him back — especially when it comes to sports. The nine-year-old plays football, soccer, runs track, swims, surfs and skateboards. But this amazing guy really shines on the wrestling mat. His record during his fifth year on the team was 27-12. Isaiah also made a friend and mentor in his coach and teacher assistant Miguel Rodriguez. Isaiah says that Miguel has pushed him to keep going. Isaiah recalls, “He says, ‘No matter what, you still can do all these things the other kids can do.’ And he says, ‘There are no excuses. No matter what, you keep doing it. No matter what. Just do your thing. Have fun. That’s the most important thing,’ Miguel says that it’s Isaiah who has inspired him and calls him, “one of the biggest gifts” in his life.
Ezra French Dominates Despite Disability
When Ezra French was born he was missing four fingers on his left hand and his left leg was not fully developed. When he was still a toddler he had the partial part of his leg amputated in order to give him more mobility. He was fitted with a prosthetic and began to excel at athletics. Now, 11-year-old Ezra plays many sports including basketball, soccer, football, track and field and even skateboards. Not only is he involved in athletics but he’s very talented and has even set seven national records. Sports Illustrated named him one of their “Sportskids of the Year.” Ezra also made an appearance on Ellen where he also took a moment to share his advice with others who might feel discouraged in life or with their own disabilities. Ezra said, “You’ve just got to know that being different is OK. And that you can dream it, you can hope it or you can make it happen.”
Adalia’s Inspirational Spirit
Adalia Rose is a beautiful 11-year-old girl with Progeria — a disease that causes rapid aging. Adalia hasn’t let her diagnosis stop her from being a happy-go-lucky tween. She first started being active on social media through videos she posts with her family. She has an astounding 6 million fans on Facebook from all over the world! Many of her videos have showcased her singing and dancing and generally having a great time in life. Adalia has also become an advocate for the disease and for finding a cure. As they say, “sometimes the greatest things come in small packages.”
Matthew’s No Nonsense Talent
Seventeen-year-old Matthew Whitaker is an amazing pianist who began playing when he was only three years old. Matthew was born blind but despite his visual impairment, he has become one of the best piano players in the world. He was endorsed by Hammond at nine years old, becoming the youngest to ever be endorsed in the company’s history. At 15, he was named a Yamaha Artist, again the youngest person to be named such. He has won numerous awards, played on world-renowned stages, shared the stage with legendary musicians, and appeared on multiple TV shows including Ellen. Currently, Matthew is studying classical piano and drums at The Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School of the Lighthouse Guild in NYC and attends the Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege Jazz Program.
Christopher’s Angelic Voice
Christopher Duffley is a young Christian singer who also happens to have autism. His favorite song is “Open the Eyes of My Heart” which he has performed for huge audiences multiple times. After becoming enamored with a microphone at age four, he began performing in first grade and in 2011 he began to gain notoriety when various major media outlets took notice of his astounding performances. In 2015, he went viral with a performance of the Star-Spangled Banner at Fenway Park. Since then, Christopher has since released two albums and he also now has a podcast that was launched in April of 2016.
Mykenzie Goes For The Gold
Mykenzie Pfeiffer is a 13-year-old gymnast whose got her eyes on the gold. Mykenzie is also deaf, having lost her hearing as a toddler. She has not let her hearing impairment stop her from excelling in gymnastics. In fact, she is so talented that many are touting her as an Olympic hopeful. Mykenzie hopes to make the Olympic team in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Mykenzie received a cochlear implant to help in everyday life, however, when she takes the mat for floor events she takes them off. “I do it without hearing the music,” she said. “My coach claps when the music comes on.” She also has some advice for others facing disabilities. She said, “If you’re disabled, don’t let that affect you because, you know what, you’re special!”
Coming up later: The brave kid who Ellen DeGeneres calls her “only boyfriend”!
Madeline Stuart: Changing The Face of Beauty
Madeline Stuart is a 20-year-old model from Brisbane, Australia with Down Syndrome. Excessive weight gain can be a problem for kids with Down Syndrome as they get older, which is why Madeline and her mom set out to improve their lifestyles. Madeline’s mom posted her story and her before and after photo online and it immediately went viral. Soon publications around the world were picking up Madeline’s story. Since then, Madeline has been determined to follow her dreams which include dance and modeling. Madeline is now living out her dream and has modeled in New York Fashion Week, Arts Hearts Fashion Week, and Style Fashion Week. She has also been featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The New York Times, and People Magazine.
No Doubts About Camden
Camden Whiddon is a four-year-old boy who was born without arms or legs, but he doesn’t let his disability get him down. People started taking notice of Camden when a video of him helping calm his infant brother went viral. He went viral again after he was able to take his first steps by sliding across the floor. Camden excitedly says, “I’m coming to you. I’m walking!” Camden’s mother was young when she had him and was worried about what his disability would mean for his life but his mother now says, “I had so many doubts at first, but he’s just shown me how I don’t need to doubt him.” She also believes he has something big in store for his future like becoming a motivational speaker and we definitely agree!
Mandy Harvey Hits It Big
Mandy Harvey first gained notoriety when she appeared on Season 12 of America’s Got Talent where she finished fourth. America fell in love with her amazing story and the fact that she could sing and play instruments so beautifully despite being deaf. Amanda was born with hearing issues and ultimately lost her hearing due to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Despite losing her hearing entirely at age eighteen, she still studied vocal music education at Colorado State University. Amanda said she uses “visual tuners” to help find her pitch. Since participating in America’s Got Talent, she has published her memoir and continues pursuing music.
Timmy and Linda’s Amazing Bond
Timmy Bannon is an amazing 11-year-old boy who has a closer-than-average bond with his mother. Both Timmy and his mother Linda were born with Holt-Oram syndrome which is a genetic disorder causing arm abnormalities as well as heart problems. In the case of Timmy and Linda, they were both born without arms. Because Linda was always treated as any normal kid by her parents, she treats her son the same way. The mother-son duo both use their feet as good as anyone can use their hands. Linda has thrived in life, earning her elementary education degree before marrying her husband Richard and having Timmy. Linda has no doubts that her son will be able to achieve the same successes. Timmy has already become super active and is even participating in swimming.
Matt’s Inspiring Perseverance
In 2012, Matt Woodrum went viral after a video captured part of his amazing story. Matt has spastic cerebral palsy which makes it difficult for him to move around like other kids. In spite of this, Matt has always maintained a determination to participate, even running races while in school. During one race in which Matt was particularly struggling, the rest of his classmates joined in and ran with him to finish his final lap. This moment was captured on video and it immediately went viral with the message of kindness and compassion for one another. Matt said of the moment, “I knew I would finish it, but there were a couple of parts of the race where I really felt like giving up.”
Introducing Ellen’s Only Boyfriend: Tayt
Tayt Andersen is a fifth-grader who has faced health problems since birth. He was born with a congenital heart defect and more specifically without a left ventricle which is what pumps blood to the lungs. He has endured multiple surgeries but has been able to still be the same amazing kid throughout his struggles. He also happens to be a huge Ellen DeGeneres fan since he was a small child. He has appeared numerous times on her show and Ellen even refers to him as her “only boyfriend.” Tayt has since used his newfound notoriety for good. After finally receiving a heart transplant, he and his mom have now become advocates for pediatric organ donations. Tayt’s mom said, “If my son becomes the face of pediatric organ donations, I know I will have accomplished so much.”
You won’t want to music the musical prodigy next.
José André Montaño: A Prodigy For The Ages
José André Montaño is a 13-year-old jazz pianist and composer. José was born blind and also has cerebral palsy. However, despite his disabilities, he has become internationally known. The young piano prodigy is also incredibly intelligent and speaks three languages. He is particularly gifted in jazz, which can often be full of complicated arrangements, yet veteran musicians hail his speed and accuracy. José has played at prestigious venues like Millennium Stage and Washington D.C. Kennedy Center. During one of his concerts, he stopped to say over his piano playing, “I have a message for the children: life is a gift.” What an amazing reminder to live life to the fullest.
Braylon’s Fight For Others
Nine-year-old Braylon Beam is a pediatric brain cancer patient. Braylon captured the hearts of people around the world after his parents would post videos of him dancing during his chemotherapy treatments. Another of America’s favorite dancer’s, Ellen DeGeneres, happened to see his videos and he even got to appear on the show. He also is a huge Carolina Panthers fan and was even able to become coach of the team for a day. He still currently has brain cancer but it is considered “stable” meaning it isn’t getting any worse and that he can also have breaks from chemotherapy. Braylon and his parents have since started a foundation. Braylon’s goal is for, “all children who are battling a form of pediatric cancer to know we are here to help in any way possible to make their life better.”
Marvin Beats The Odds
This young man introduces himself best: “My name is Marvin Pearson. I can’t see, but I can still kick butt on the football field.” Marvin attends Pottstown High School, and he is unable to see or hear. He also happens to be an excellent football player. Marvin has a special message and says, “I want people to understand that you’re able to overcome any obstacle set in your path, whether it’s an amputated body part or being blind, or hearing impaired.” He’s also like any other kid and plays basketball, runs track, wrestles, raps, “reads a lot” and owns 17 fantasy football teams. Marvin has plans to one day become a sports agent and with such an amazing outlook on life, there’s no doubt he will succeed.
James Meiergerd Has Untouchable Hoop Skills
James Meiergerd is a teen from Nebraska who went viral after he made an amazing basketball trick shot. James also just so happens to have Down Syndrome. The 18-year-old made a backward facing half-court shot during the halftime of a varsity game. As senior player Greg Johnson said, “He’s really the heart and soul of this basketball team.” The video later gained worldwide notoriety when it was featured on “ABC World News Tonight.” The Harlem Globetrotters even saw his impressive shot and invited him to be their guest when they visited Omaha. When they brought him out on the court, James pulled off the impressive shot yet again! As globetrotter Dizzy English said, “The video was truly inspirational.”
The Incomparable Singing Of Isaac
This little boy is Isaac and he is able to sing with perfect pitch. The amazing thing? Isaac is a non-verbal autistic child, meaning he does not speak at all. His music teacher was astounded when one day he broke out into song during class with Peabo Bryson’s duet “Beauty and the Beast” from the original movie. Isaac started singing more and his teacher captured him singing “A Whole New World” acapella. After his teacher recorded the audio, he took it home and realized that Isaac was amazingly able to sing in the same key as the original without hearing it, meaning he has perfect pitch. When the teacher was able to play back the video for him Isaac again sang along. His teacher said that this has opened the door to communication for Isaac. Not long after, another teacher attempted to ask him a question by singing it and he answered back in song. The video went viral and has inspired countless people to attempt to use music to communicate with other autistic children in the world.
Sam Berns Teaches The Meaning Of Life
Sam Berns was a truly extraordinary young man. Sam had progeria, a disease that causes rapid aging. His parents are both pediatricians and ended up establishing the Progeria Research Foundation after Sam’s diagnosis as a two-year-old. Sam was most remarkable for his amazing outlook on life, he even gave a TEDx Talk called “My Philosophy For A Happy Life.” Sam dedicated his short time on the planet to raise awareness about progeria as well as to spread his message of happiness. A documentary film was produced about his life called Life According to Sam. He was also a huge sports fan especially of hockey team the Bruins and football team The Patriots. He became friends with Bruins captain Zdeno Chára. After one game, Berns told Chára, “You’re the hero!” and Chára responded: “No, no, you’re my hero, our hero.”
Amanda Aims For Excellence
Amanda Bricker is an eighth-grade softball player who is excelling despite being born deaf. Next year, Amanda will start high school and she has already made such an impression that the varsity softball coach, Larry Loger, is already hoping she’ll join the team. Larry said, “I’ve never seen her use it as a crutch. She’s a hard worker so I don’t think it’s ever going to be a problem for her.” Recently, Amanda has undergone surgery for cochlear implants which allow her to hear. Amanda said her new additions have been a total game-changer both on and off the field. Amanda dreams of continuing her softball dreams as well as studying audiology to help other hearing-impaired kids just like her.
Kanya: A Triple Threat
Kanya Sesser was born in Thailand and abandoned when she was one week old. Her birth parents left her outside a Buddhist temple and monks took her in before she was adopted and brought to America. Kanya was born without legs, but she never let that stop her from excelling at pretty much everything she tries. As a teen, she was recognized for her athletic accomplishments including skateboarding, surfing, and even breakdancing. She even scored a role in the TV show Hawaii 5-O playing a soldier who loses her legs. While roles with disabilities often go to able-bodied actors, the director wanted a disabled person. Now 23, Kanya continues to act and model and we are sure to see more of her in the future.