Why You're a Roll Model - And the Responsibility that Comes with it


Yes, that pun was definitely intended.

In my last post, I wrote about the Arizona Diamondbacks drafting Cory Hahn.

Many applaud, myself included, the Diamondbacks organization for this incredible gesture. This was an amazing opportunity for Hahn, and I wish him nothing but the best in his pursuits in a career in baseball. But like Uncle Ben always said, "with great power, comes great responsibility."

While Hahn's accident is certainly tragic and unfortunate, the nature of his injury put him in a very unique position. Even though he lost the ability to walk, he also gained another important ability.

The ability to enact change.

Because his injury occurred on the sports field, Hahn and his road to recovery were put in the mainstream media spotlight. People were captivated by his determination and resolve and cheered him on from across the globe. He is a beaming example of the strength of the human spirit and everyone can't help but root for him. Along with Hahn, former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand has also been widely publicized because of a paralyzing injury. During his recovery, LeGrand received well-wishes from celebrities and appeared on numerous television shows. But while these injured athletes received supports from the rich and famous, Hahn and LeGrand also become celebrities in their own right.

They became the face of the disability community in mainstream media and gained a global audience as they go through their recovery. And because of this, they have an incredible opportunity to enact some real and important change regarding issues for people with disabilities.

From accessibility to transportation, health care to employment opportunities, there is no shortage of issues that need to be addressed and discussed. Here are just a few statistics:

  • The jobless rate for people with disabilities is at 13.6% (http://bit.ly/16oovJC)
  • The median income is $23,532 for people aged 21 to 64 with a disability, compared to $32,688 for those with no disability. (http://bit.ly/16oqf5E)
  • One third of the employers surveyed said that persons with disabilities cannot effectively perform the required job tasks. The second most common reason given for not hiring persons with disabilities was the fear of costly special facilities. (http://bit.ly/17MU3My)

When it comes to improving the lives and opportunities for people with disabilities, there is much to be done. Many of those with disabilities still aren't afforded the opportunities and services needed to live to their full potential, but with people like Hahn and LeGrand, things can change.

I am urging Hahn, LeGrand and other people with disabilities to become more boisterous advocates for the less fortunate who live with a disability. They have been given a platform where they can help bring important awareness to disability issues and become vehicles of change; for the better. Whether they know it or not, they've become important role models to those with disabilities and with that, comes a responsibility to be greater, to achieve more. Not just for themselves, but for those in similar situations.

So I challenge them to become leaders, instigators, advocates and mentors. Be more than just an inspiring human interest story and show others what people with disabilities are truly capable of. While their bodies may be weak, they still have the power to make a difference.

With their help, anything is possible.