The Story:
 Tasha was a “happy go lucky” kid living in a small town in Wisconsin. She was very involved in sports and clubs and in the community, as her parents owned the local grocery store. In high school, she found her place as an aspiring actress. As just a sophomore in high school, she got the lead role of Sandy in “Grease.” A week before the final performance, the cast and crew was working on a scene change that was taking too long. Tasha was moving out of the way as a set piece was moved across her path. She took a step back and fell sixteen feet to a cement floor; somebody had removed a trapdoor in the stage and Tasha suffered the unintended consequences.

In the hospital, the doctors prepared Tasha’s family for the worst: she may not make it. Her C5 vertebrae had shattered and severed her spinal cord. As they performed surgery, all of Tasha’s organs were shutting down and her heart was working overtime to try and keep her alive. She was unconscious for eight days and it was thought that even if she woke up, she would be in a vegetative state.

The Inspiration:
Not only did Tasha wake up, she woke up with a fully functioning brain. However, she was paralyzed from the chest down. For a teenage girl in the prime of life, this was devastating news. However, Tasha decided to live. She says in one of the videos on her website that “a positive attitude can do wonders” and she sometimes feels “like the happiest person in the world.” After her time in recovery, Tasha went back to high school and received her diploma. She then finished college with a degree in communication with a minor in music.

Today, Tasha travels around speaking in churches, schools, correctional facilities and in front of various organizations. Her goal is to inspire and transform lives. She won Mrs. Wheelchair Wisconsin and then went on to be crowned 2012’s Ms. Wheelchair USA.  Most recently, Tasha got engaged to the love of her life, Doug, and is busy planning the wedding. She also recently published her book, My Last Step Backwards, and is busy travelling around and doing book signings. As Tasha keeps up her positive attitude every single day, nothing is getting in her way from embracing life to the fullest.

Learn More:
Visit Tasha’s website to hear more about her upcoming appearances and book signings or to buy her book, My Last Step Backwards: www.tashaschuh.com.

Also, visit Tasha’s blog to read her own updates on her life, her love, and her work: http://blog.tashaschuh.com/.

Don’t forget to check out Tasha in the below video either!


The Story:

When Dick Traum was only 24 years old he was hit by a car and his right leg had to be amputated. Although Traum had always been an athlete and even wrestled while in college, he did not let this injury interrupt his life. As Traum remembers, “Somehow, I wasn’t upset. When you lose a leg, there’s no ambiguity…You get an artificial leg and keep going.” This determination and grit led Traum to become the first amputee to run the New York City Marathon in 1976. This was, “probably the best day of my life,” he says, “I thought, this joy can be shared with others too.”

By achieving his goal of running the Marathon and constantly challenging his limits, Traum became an inspiration for others to do the same. With Traum’s achievement in mind, Terry Fox, a 21-year-old Canadian who, due to cancer also had lost a leg, embarked on his Marathon of Hope in 1980. Fox ran more than 3,300 miles across Canada, averaging about 26 miles each day, to fundraise for cancer research. Fox passed away in 1981 but not before he raised millions of dollars and worldwide awareness for finding a cure for cancer. After competing in a race in Fox’s memory, Traum decided to start a non-profit, dubbed Achilles International, “to bring hope, inspiration, and the joys of achievement to people with disabilities.”

The Inspiration:

Achilles International has grown into a worldwide organization represented in 70 countries and has helped over 10,000 disabled athletes compete. At weekly gatherings, the organization pairs able-bodied volunteers with disabled runners, including many who use hand-crank wheelchairs. Together, they set goals and, supported by the Achilles community, train to achieve them. While the ultimate goal may be running a marathon or a 5K, the road to the finish line often starts more modestly. For one of Achilles’ runners, Andre De Mello, her first goal was walk from one of Central Park’s lampposts to another. A stroke that she suffered at age 10 made walking this distance nearly an impossible feat. However, through her hard work and encouragement from Traum and Achilles, she walked six lampposts, then eight, and, one year after she began, she completed the NYC Marathon. De Mello is one of Achilles’ many stories of success and has finished 20 marathons to date.

As Traum sums up Achilles’ mission, “We’re giving people an opportunity to achieve. When one achieves it sets off the ‘Well, if I can do this, I can probably do that too’ response. It improves the level of aspiration. When people come together it creates a cohesive group and makes everything a little better.” Traum is the definition of a Hero of Hope and he is truly an inspiration to us all.

Learn More:

For more about Dick Traum or Achilles International, check out the below articles that were used in writing this bio or follow the link to Achilles International’s website. Also, don’t forget to check out the video of Traum in his feature as a CNN Hero.

Achilles International's website

Kathleen Toner, CNN: “Amputee pushes disabled athletes to aspire for more.”

Kia Makarechi, Huffington Post: “HuffPost Greatest Person of the Day: Dr. Dick Trau Inspires Disabled, Veterans, Athletes.”

New Public Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: “Faces of Public Health: Richard Traum”


The Story:

Travis Roy was just your typical boy from Yarmouth, Maine. His father was a hockey coach and his love for the sport blossomed at a young age. By the time he reached high school, he was being sought after by the most prominent college hockey programs in the country. Roy finally decided to attend Boston University as a Terrier and he was in his element. After a long season of grueling practices, Travis got his shot at starting his first collegiate game. Eleven seconds in, his promising career was stopped short as he slammed into the sideboards, cracking his fourth vertebrae and becoming paralyzed from the neck down. Travis Roy would have to start over in foreign circumstances. However, as he says in his talks, his time as a hockey player helped give him the drive and the grit to reevaluate and persevere.

The Inspiration:

One of Travis’ best quotes is that “sometimes we choose our challenges, and at other times our challenges choose us.” Travis decided that there was a reason he became a quadriplegic and he has made the best of it. After intensive physical therapy, Travis went back to school at Boston University and got his degree in four years. Right out of college he started the Travis Roy foundation and started raising money for research into the realm of spinal cord injuries. He also uses the funds to help individuals with spinal cord injuries reach their goals.

As he was adjusting to life as a quadriplegic, Travis faced more challenges than most people can imagine. He managed to make his way to an independent, fulfilling life. He says that one of his favorite things is sitting on the porch of his family’s lake house and just taking in the beauty of the landscape. As many setbacks as he’s faced, Travis maintains that “this challenge chose him” and he has accepted with enthusiasm. His critically acclaimed book, Eleven Seconds; A Story of Tragedy, Courage & Triumph, is reviewed on this site and details his life surrounding the accident.

Learn More:

All you need to know about Travis Roy is on his website, including his story, his mission, event dates, and more.

Travis Roy Foundation website: