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Inspiring People in Special Education

As a little girl growing up in Charleston, South Carolina I enjoyed so many various aspects of my childhood. One of my most prominent memories center around my education in the Catholic Diocese. I attended Catholic school from pre- Kindergarten until my high school graduation. As a student that attended parochial schools, I can vividly recall many of my teachers and principals that inspired and challenged me as a student and presented me with numerous opportunities for growth, education, and advancement. 

I recall countless book reports and biography assignments my teachers gave me. One biography in particular continues to encourage me to this day. This is the biography of Wilma Rudolph. Wilma Rudolph was an American track and field athlete who grew up in Tennessee. Wilma Rudolph was physically disabled as a result of polio, and received numerous medical treatments to gain the full use of her left leg. Wilma wore a brace on her left leg until she was twelve years of age. Wilma persevered and soon played basketball in high school, only to find her niche in track and field, where Wilma’s coach gave her the nickname  “Skeeter” because she was fast like a mosquito. 

Wilma Rudolph participated in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and won the bronze medal in the relay team race. Wilma went on to win four gold medals in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy. She became known as the fastest woman in history, after competing in the 100 meter sprint, 200 meter sprint, and the 4×100 meter relay. Wilma retired from her track and field career at the age of 22. She later earned her Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education from  Tennessee State. 

Wilma Rudolph persevered through childhood sickness and a physical disability that impaired her ability to enjoy her early childhood. I can image the desire she would have had to run and play with other children. Yet with the support of her family, Wilma did not give up. This is why her story makes such an impact upon my life. She achieved great accomplishments in the very area where she was physically disabled. The greatest source of pain and weakness later became her greatest triumph. How inspiring that a young girl from Tennessee would travel the world because of the God given ability to run. In my experience teaching Exceptional students, it is important for them to be aware of other men and women who did not allow disabilities, labels, racial discriminations, or challenges to be the cause for giving up on their hopes, dreams, and desires.

Blessings, 

Elizabeth