Each year on March 1st we celebrate International Wheelchair Day to honor the positive impact wheelchairs have for people with disabilities. We also acknowledge the incredible things wheelchairs users accomplish every day. It is a day to raise awareness about the fact that there are millions of people who need wheelchairs but do not have access to one. It’s also an opportunity to give appreciation to the caregivers and loved ones who support wheelchair users in so many ways.
About International Wheelchair Day
International Wheelchair Day was started by Steve Wilkinson, who was born with Spina Bifida and has used a wheelchair for most of his life. He has always pursued life with a ‘can-do’ attitude, and grew up dreaming of making a difference in other peoples’ lives. In 2008, he founded International Wheelchair Day to “make the world more accessible for other wheelchair users and people who have non-standard needs”.
Through the power of word-of-mouth and social media, International Wheelchair Day is now celebrated across the globe.
As part of his mission, he created ‘Wheelchair Ambassadors’. Wheelchair Ambassadors is a network of wheelchair users, family members, and professional caregivers available for other wheelchair users to help find and navigate places to go around the globe that meet their accessibility needs.
International Wheelchair Day is also an opportunity to raise awareness for the millions of people around the world in need of a wheelchair, but unable to access or afford one. Steve Wilkinson partners with Whirlwind Wheelchair, an organization with a mission to provide durable, affordable, and highly functional wheelchairs to all who need them.
Amazing Wheelchair Users
Wheelchairs provide people with disabilities more than mobility and independence. They allow people to accomplish amazing things! A few famous wheelchair users include former President F.D. Roosevelt, musician Teddy Pendergrass, journalist and author John Charles Hockenberry, and Professor Stephen Hawking.
Wheelchair users aren’t limited by capacity, only imagination.
There are accomplished wheelchair dancers, like Beverly Weurding and Alisa Shuman, and skiers like Ragnhild Myklebust, who holds the world record for the most medals ever won at a winter paralympics. Wheelchair users are sailors, swimmers, basketball players, tennis players, marathon winners, and triathletes, just to name a few.
Aaron “Wheels” Fotheringham
Aaron “Wheels” Fotheringham is an award-winning wheelchair motocross (WCMX) athlete, who performed the first-ever wheelchair motocross backflip. He is also an advocate and public speaker who travels the world to inspire and motivate wheelchair users everywhere.
British artist Sue Austin uses a specially adapted wheelchair to explore new mediums of underwater movement and dance to “find dramatic and powerful ways to reposition disability and Disability Arts”.
Zach Anner, comedian and winner of ‘Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star’ never let being in a wheelchair keep him from achieving his dreams of being a performer and comedian. As he puts it, “For me, cerebral palsy wasn’t the biggest deal, because I always had it. You know, you always work with what you got.”
World-famous actor Christopher Reeve was popularly known for his role as Superman. After a horse riding accident left him quadriplegic, he became equally well-known for his incredible work advocating for disability awareness and providing resources and support for people with disabilities, their loved ones, and caregivers through the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
These are only a few examples of the incredible accomplishments achieved by wheelchair users each and every day. A wheelchair does not keep men and women from accomplishing their dreams, goals, and desires, and demonstrating the true power of the human spirit.
Join the Thrive Community!
We’ve gathered a number of inspiring individuals with disabilities in our very own Thrive Community! The Thrive Community Facebook Group is a private space for any person with a disability, as well as caregivers and healthcare providers that touch their lives. Our purpose is to provide a safe, educational space for group members to ask every question, connect with their peers, and empower each other through communication and connection. Our conversations are led by incredible individuals who themselves are living and thriving.