The Benefits of Hiring a Motivational Speaker with Disabilities

The Benefits of Hiring a Motivational Speaker with Disabilities

A good motivational speaker can be profoundly impactful on the audiences they address. Their stories of overcoming hardship, perseverance, and determination stay with a listener long after the talk has ended; a morale booster unlike any other. Weve compiled a list of some speakers we work with who inspire audiences by sharing their unique experiences of living with a disability.   

Their one-of-a-kind stories bring a dimension to their talks that are guaranteed to move attendees. Whether it’s being able to summit mountains while blind or competing in the Paralympics, these keynote speakers have incredible stories to share.

Check out some of these motivational speakers with disabilities below:


World-Class Blind Adventurer

Despite losing his vision at age 14, he is an accomplished climber, paraglider, skier, and kayaker who never allows blindness interfere with his passion for pursuing an exhilarating and fulfilling life. Erik brings audiences a powerful message about harnessing the power of adversity as fuel for greatness, emphasizing the importance of building a strong “Rope Team,” and illuminating how to develop a “No Barriers Mindset.” Erik’s talks resonate with diverse audiences from graduating college students to large sales teams to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Erik’s speaking career has taken him around the globe from the 2005 APEC Summit in Chile to the 2009 Presidential Inaugural celebration in Washington, DC. Erik speaks to major companies in London, Dublin, Moscow, Berlin, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Abu Dhabi, as well as across the United States. Previously, he shared speaking platforms with luminaries such as Secretary Colin Powell, President Bill Clinton, and Prime Minister Tony Blair.


Retired Marine Sergeant, Paralympic Bronze Medalist, & Endurance Athlete

Retired Marine Sergeant and Paralympic Bronze Medalist, Rob Jones’ life is synonymous with fearless perseverance. A former combat engineer with the U.S. Marines, Rob served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2008 and 2010. In 2010, he was struck and injured by a land mine, resulting in a double above-the-knee leg amputation. Despite the trauma, Rob’s incredible spirit remained intact and he set about devising a new pathway to his unchanged goal: A life filled with purpose and meaning. In the fall of 2017, Rob completed a month long, back-to-back marathon challenge, running 31 marathons in 31 days in 31 different major cities. The undertaking raised awareness and funds for wounded veteran charities, and began in London, England, on October 12, 2017. Appropriately, Jones finished the journey on November 11, 2017, Veteran’s Day, in Washington, DC. Along with providing perspective on the capabilities of all wounded veterans, Rob and his team raised over $200,000 for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. 


Inspirational Blind Veteran and Adventurer

Ever since he was a small child, Steve Baskis had wanted to serve in the military like his father and grandfather. He enlisted and was injured just eight months into his deployment. Now, his resultant blindness has instilled in him a drive to test his own potential and push the boundaries of what disabled people are perceived capable of doing. A testament to the human spirit, Baskis has become self-sufficient, fallen in love, gotten married, and summited three mountains – all after going blind. He addresses motivation, inspiration, overcoming adversity, and pushing the limits of human potential.


2018 Paralympic Silver Medalist, 2014 Paralympic Bronze Medalist, and Three-Time World Cup Gold Medalist

At 19, after experiencing flu-like symptoms, Amy was rushed to the hospital in a state of septic shock. En route, she experienced respiratory and multiple organ failure which caused her to lose circulation to her extremities. When she entered into the hospital she was given less than a 2% chance of survival, put on life support and placed into a coma. After multiple blood transfusions, and the removal of her ruptured spleen, doctors diagnosed Amy with Meningococcal Meningitis, a vaccine preventable bacterial infection. Due to the lack of circulation she had suffered doctors had to amputate her legs below the knee. She later received a donated kidney from her father a week before her 21st birthday.


Adventurer and Founder of the OM Foundation

When Bonner Paddock Rinn falls down, he gets back up in a big way. He has spent his life shaking off skinned knees, broken bones, and doctors’ warnings. And at 33 years old, he became the first person diagnosed with cerebral palsy to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro unassisted. No small feat for an able-bodied man, but a monumental undertaking for Bonner. To raise awareness of those suffering from cerebral palsy, he tackled the climb with the determination and vigor that has defined his life. Eight days and 19,340 feet later, he had conquered not only the mountain, but his own limitations. He is the author of the book, One More Step. Bonner shares a gripping story of human perseverance and adventure that demonstrates we all have a choice: Either define our lives by limitations, or discover just how much we can achieve when we push beyond them.


ESPN On-Air Personality, Motivational Speaker, Paralympic Gold Medalist & World Record Holder

Victoria was 11 years old when she came down with a rare viral disease, Transverse Myelitis, with which she battled for five years including four years in a vegetative coma. The disease left her without the use of her legs for nearly a decade. A lifelong swimmer and elite athlete, Victoria never gave up her childhood dream of competing in the Olympics Games. In June 2010, she returned to the pool for the first time since her illness and in the spring of 2012, she qualified for the London Paralympic Games in four events. There she won a Gold Medal and three Silver Medals.


World's First Armless Pilot, Inspirational Speaker, & Disability Rights Advocate

The doctors don't exactly know why Jessica Cox was born without arms. Sonograms and other prenatal tests did not reveal this rare congenital condition. However, from infancy her feet became her hands. Like all children, she went through the various stages of development. She learned to feed herself and write with her feet.


Top-Ranked Adaptive Alpine Racer

Mark Bathum was born with retinitis pigmentosa, the second leading cause of blindness, and has been legally blind since his late 30s. Mark embraced this challenge in his late 40’s and is currently the top-ranked visually impaired ski racer in the world in the downhill event. He is a three-time Paralympic silver medalist in the 2010 and 2014 games, is the top-ranked adaptive alpine racer in the U.S., has won eight World Cup races despite attending only half the races each year, was nominated for an ESPY, and was named the Paralympian Male Athlete of the Games at the inaugural U.S. Olympic and Paralympic “Best of U.S.” Awards ceremony broadcast by NBC in 2014.


First Combat-Wounded Veteran to Summit Mount Everest, Former Marine EOD (Bomb) Technician

Sgt. Charles Linville became the first combat-wounded veteran to summit Mount Everest after a three year journey of intensive training and unwavering determination. Linville was injured in 2011 while serving as a bomb technician during his second tour in Afghanistan. On that fateful day in January, when two of his comrades stepped on I.E.D.s, Linville was sent in to do a post-blast analysis. Refusing to leave his men and their gear behind, he put his own life at risk to sweep the area and recover what remained. Linville discusses his personal journey from Marine Corps soldier to bomb technician to wounded veteran, and his courageous decision to amputate his right foot after a 14-month-long stay in the hospital- an injury for which he received a Purple Heart award.


President of Rising Above LLC

In 1987, John O’Leary was a curious nine-year-old boy. Playing with fire and gasoline, John created a massive explosion in his home and was burned on 100% of his body. He was given less than a 1% chance to live. This epic story of survival was first showcased in his parents’ book, Overwhelming Odds, in 2006. Originally printing 200 copies for friends and family, his parents have sold 60,000+ copies. It was this book that first invited John to embrace his miraculous recovery and share it with the world.


Highly-Decorated Army Colonel

Retired Colonel Greg Gadson has survived the very worst of war, but this highly-decorated American soldier has not been defeated by unfortunate circumstances. Instead, his life is a portrait of courage in the face of great adversity. Gadson understands that hard work and determination are key factors in overcoming life-altering setbacks. His biggest challenge happened in Iraq when an IED attack led to both of his legs being amputated above the knees. For anyone else, this might have been a defining moment, but he refused to be defined by the proverbial “hail of bullets.”


Navy Diver, Shark Attack Survivor & Author

An elite Australian Navy diver who lost two limbs in a horrific shark attack that changed his life, Paul de Gelder now inspires others to overcome obstacles and champions shark conservation. He has been a long-time co-host on the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. He has also been tapped to help promote The Meg, an action-horror film about a 95-foot prehistoric shark starring Jason Stratham. Triumphing over tragedy by relying on the mantra that he learned as a young paratrooper in the Australian Army, “Improvise… Adapt… Overcome,” Paul has enthralled and motivated audiences around the world.


Keep audiences talking long after your event with the experience a handicapped motivational speaker brings to the stage for your 2022 event. As the top disabled motivational speakers in the industry, these men and women are engaging, insightful, and favorites of audiences.

At Leading Authorities speakers bureau, we’ll help you secure the perfect speaker for your program and be there every step of the way to ensure you pull off an unforgettable and successful event. Our team of seasoned professionals, which offers more than 30 years of experience in the speaking and meeting planning industry, works with you one-on-one to find the perfect keynote speaker. If you’re searching for inspirational speakers with disabilities, we’ll find a speaker that matches your budget, audience, and goals. And to make it even better, we handle all the logistics and event add-ons.

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For more information about our expansive roster of elite keynote speakers or to book one of these talented speakers for your next event or meeting, contact our team today. 

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