If it has taught us anything, it’s that inspiration can be found in all sorts of places. The impact of figures like Stephen Hawking, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Frida Kahlo and Stevie Wonder, among others, is a testament to how unfair circumstances are no barrier to determined people.
We are still surrounded by people who can inspire us with their talent, ambition and bravery. On that note, we’ve rounded up five inspiring wheelchair users whose social media presence are an uplifting force for us all.
1. Pippa Stacey
Twenty-six-year-old Pippa Stacey is an award winning writer who has been blogging for years. Hailing from York, Stacey has used her platform to talk about myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), otherwise known as chronic fatigue.
Having lived with the illness since she was a teenager, Pippa has made it her goal to inspire others with the same condition. In 2020, she authored a book “University and Chronic Illness: A Survival Guide” aimed at empowering young people with ME who are considering higher education.
2. Ade Adepitan
Nigerian-born Ade Adepitan MBE is a star of British wheelchair basketball, and also a television presenter for a range of BBC sports and entertainment programmes. Part of the GB basketball team at the 2005 Paralympic World Cup, Adepitan and the rest of the team took home the Gold Medal.
Contracting polio at fifteen months old, Adepitan has been a wheelchair user all his life. This has only strengthened his resolve. Today, he remains an active participant in many charities that promote child welfare and act to tackle racism and prejudice towards disabled people.
3. Shane Burcaw
A wheelchair user since the tender age of 2, Shane was born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). This is a hereditary disease that affects his motor skills and leaves him with limited mobility. Shane is an avid blogger and content creator whose mission is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with his condition, so that others do not have to feel disconnected from able-bodied people.
In his own words, “we are teachers and parents and doctors and screw-ups and artists and lovers and scientists and travelers and lawyers and investors and creatives. We are funny and dumb and mean and kind and brilliant and dull and wise and angry and pragmatic and passionate. We are individuals, and we all have WAY more going on than our SMA.” You can follow his Instagram at @shaneburcaw.
4. Tess Daly
Also suffering from SMA, the 32-year-old Tess Daly has amassed a 200k+ following on Instagram. She produces ads for cosmetic brands and offers her own beauty tutorials. For example, she shares insight into the tools that help wheelchair users apply makeup. Her talents are in marketing campaigns for big brands like Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo.
Her aim is to keep disability representation in the mainstream conversation. By working with popular brands, her hope is more companies will make more effort to better represent all types of people in society. You can follow her Instagram account at @tess.daly.
5. David Weir
David Weir is an accomplished wheelchair athlete. Having won six Paralympic gold medals, six World Championship gold medals and eight London Marathons, Weir is the most successful in his class in the UK.
Born with a spinal cord transection, Weir has never had the use of his legs. This cold reality frustrated him for many years — until he found wheelchair racing. After watching the 2000 Sydney paralympic games, he surprised himself with his optimism for the future of the sport. First awarded an MBE in 2009, Weir now holds a CBE for his services to athletics. Follow him on Instagram here.