Disability Does Not Define These Women

Disability does not Define

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There are women for whom disability does not define them. Women with disabilities either live the way others expect them to or fight for the life they deserve. Two such women are Alyson Stroker, an actress, author and singer, and Tammy Duckworth an American Senator. Their determination to overcome is an inspiration. They refused to allow the demands of society to limit them.

Disability Does Not Define Alyson Stoker

Alyson Stoker is a ground-breaking American actress, author and singer. She has been a New York City actress and singer for three quarters of her life.

She never accepted the words “I can’t do that.” Her aim is to inspire others who have disabilities, limitations or challenges. “Everyone should follow their dreams.”

At age two Stoker was paralysed from the chest down, as a result from an accident she was in with her brother. Disability does not define who Alyson Stroker is.

Wheelchair-User Broadway Actress

Stocker studied at New York’s University’s Tisch School of Arts and gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She is the first actress to appear on a Broadway stage as a wheelchair-user. She has performed in productions like ‘Spring Awakening’ and ‘Annie’.

Stoker became a rising star in 2012, when she competed on The Glee Project and came second. She cannot engage the diaphragm and stomach in a way necessary for normal singing techniques, because of her disability. Stoker successfully developed her own method of singing as a Mezzo-Soprano.

Stoker has appeared in guest roles in popular television shows, including ‘Ozark’ and ‘Only Murders in the Building’.

In 2019, Stoker became the first wheelchair-user to win a Toby Award for Featured Actress in a Musical. She performed in ‘Oklahoma’.

Record Holder

Disability does not define Stoker. As of 2020, she still held the National Record for the Under-11, 200-meter event on the track, in a wheelchair-user race.

Stoker is a strong swimmer and surfs with ‘Life Rolls On’. They are a non-profit group, dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury. 

In 202,0 Stoker starred as Anne in The Public Theatre’s Free Shakespeare in the Park production, ‘Richard III’.

David Perlow and Ali Stoker announced they were expecting a child on the anniversary of their marriage. It was a dream come true for the 35-year-old, wheelchair-user Ali, who goes from strength to strength.

Disability Does Not Devine Senator Ladda Tammy Duckworth

Senator Tammy Duckworth was born in Thailand. She was a natural-born American; her father was an American citizen. Duckworth became the first Thai American woman to be elected to Congress.

Duckworth received a Master of Arts in political science from George Washington University, in 1989. She became a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve in 1992.

Flying helicopters was one of the few combat jobs open to women. In 1996 Duckworth entered the Illinois Army National Guard. She was also the coordinator of the Centre for Nursing Research, Northern Illinois University.


In 2004, Tammy Duckworth was the first female helicopter pilot to lead a combat mission while deployed in Iraq. Her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. She lost both her legs and some mobility in her right arm. Duckworth was the first double amputee from the Iraq war.

On December 3rd 2004 she received the Purple Heart and was promoted to Major. Duckworth received a total of 10 medals from the military.

Despite her injuries, she obtained a medical waver and continued serving in the Illinois Army National Guard. Duckworth retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2014.

Disability Does Not Define A Political Woman

Duckworth has served as a junior U.S. Senator since 2017. She is the first senator to give birth while in office. Disability does not define women like Senator Duckworth or dampen her sense of humour.

Shortly after the birth of Maile, a Senate rule-change permitted senators to bring children under one-year-old on the Senate floor and be breastfed. Duckworth was the first senator to vote while holding a baby.

There have only been three Asian American women who have served in the American Senate, Tammy Duckworth, Mazie Hirono and Kamala Harris. Duckworth was the first double amputee in the Senate.

PhD in Human Services

Senator Duckworth wanted more. She completed her PhD in human services at Capella University in 2015.

During Joe Biden’s presidential candidate selection, Duckworth was vetted as a possible running mate, against Senator Kamala Harris.

Disability Does Not Define

Both Duckworth and Stoker prove that disability does not hold a determined person back. Trauma and negative circumstances do not define who they are. Sheer courage and a refusal to quit personifies women like Duckworth and Stoker.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg could have found her petite stature a disability, instead she rose to become known as the ‘Notorious RBG’. Florence Nightingale could have let her aristocratic upbringing become a hinderance. Instead, she became known as the empathetic ‘Lady With The Lamp’, and founder of worldwide nursing technique reform.

Women everywhere have an important voice in their sphere of influence. They don’t live in their memories or dreams of tomorrow, but live each day to the fullest. One hundred years ago, women were severely limited by the social demands of their day, while women pioneers have changed the world.

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    Wendy is an Inspirational Freelance Writer specializing in offering encouragement to women in all walks of life.

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