8 Most Inspirational People of Our Time

To show us how much people are really capable of, some people have had to endure extreme situations. Here are 8 examples of people who have been pushed to their limit by life and have become inspirational role models for us all.

1. Nick Vujicic

1. Nick Vujicic

The name may not ring a bell, but almost everyone has heard of the man with no arms or legs who has become an inspirational speaker. Vijicic is an Australian whose tagline is this: “I’m happy; why aren’t you?” and he proves he’s happy by pursuing his interests despite his physical limitations. He swims, surfs, plays soccer and golf, and has graduated college with two degrees. He is living proof that life is what you make of it, not what you’re given.

2. Nando Parrado

2. Nando Parrado

A plane crash survivor who survived two and a half months at the top of the Andes with other survivors, Parrado is a living legend. After being stranded for 9 days, all survivors democratically decided that any one of them who died would serve as food for the other survivors, who were already running low on food. They stayed put for two weeks and found out that all rescue efforts had been cancelled, but they continued to push through. Parrado and 3 others went for help and after climbing down the mountain, a 10-day ordeal, they found help and brought rescue teams back to the crash site. Parrado is now a motivational speaker.

3. Jessica Cox

3. Jessica Cox

When it comes to flying, Jessica Cox has proven that you don’t need arms to be an excellent pilot. Cox was born without any arms but that has hardly limited her in her pursuit of extreme hobbies. After earning her degree in psychology, Cox learned to do everything she needed to with her feet. She can type, brush her hair and even drive with her feet alone! She is also a black belt in Tai Kwon-do, a very impressive CV by any standard!

4. Sean Swarner

4. Sean Swarner

Surviving cancer is a huge fight in and of itself, but Sean Swarner has become an inspiration because as a cancer survivor, he has completed the “7 Summits.” The 7 Summits is one of the most challenging climbing achievements because it requires climbing the tallest mountain on each continent. That means that Swarner has climbed Everest after having lost functionality in part of his lungs due to a cancerous tumor! To hear more about his story, check out Swarner’s book “Keep Climbing: How I Beat Cancer and Reached the Top of the World”

5. Randy Pausch

5. Randy Pausch

Pausch was rocketed into the limelight when videos of his “Last Lecture” hit YouTube in 2006. Pausch was a computer science professor who, when he found out that he had pancreatic cancer, decided to give his students the most important lecture of their lives about achieving childhood dreams. He shared each of his childhood dreams with students–being in zero gravity, playing in the NFL, authoring a World Book Encyclopedia article, meeting Captain James T. Kirk, winning a huge stuffed animal at an amusement park, and becoming an Imagineer with Disney. He then explained how he accomplished each of his dreams. His story was featured on the media and online and though he passed away from his cancer, he continues to inspire all of us children at heart.

6. Ben Underwood

6. Ben Underwood

While not a vigilante like comic book hero the Daredevil, Ben Underwood actually has a lot in common with this superhero. Underwood is blind but he still has been able to skateboard, bike, and even play football! Also consider that Underwood learned how to do all of this by age 14. Underwood has learned to navigate through echolocation; he makes a series of clicks while he is moving around which helps him create a mental picture of his surroundings. He has mastered his technique to the point that he can differentiate between a car and a truck, and even navigate a home that he is totally unfamiliar with. Ben’s example and faith were sealed by his death in 2009 when his cancer spread to his brain and spine. Ben’s story and legacy are truly amazing!

7. Liz Murray

7. Liz Murray

Not many people have the distinction of being admitted to the nation’s most prestigious school, Harvard University. Even fewer have done so after being homeless. Liz Murray was born in unbelievable hard circumstances, her parents were drug addicts and were both infected with AIDS. Murray became homeless at 15 after the death of her mom. She then found the Humanities Preparatory Academy and after graduating, was awarded a scholarship from the New York Times. Murray was then accepted to Harvard and, between taking time off to care for her ailing father, graduated from Harvard with a psychology degree. She now mentors others and works as an inspirational speaker.

8. Patrick Henry Hughes

8. Patrick Henry Hughes

While there have been other blind musicians, like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, Patrick Henry Hughes does not fall a step short of any of them. Hughes was born without eyes and with limbs that could not fully extend. This meant that Hughes could not walk or move normally. Notwithstanding his physical limitations, Hughes has become an outstanding musician, he plays the piano and the trumpet and has won several prestigious competitions for his piano, vocal, and trumpet performances. He is even a member of the Louisville School of Music Marching Band and plays from his wheelchair as his father pushes him along the route. After appearing on numerous talk shows and in numerous publications, Hughes has inspired other disabled musicians to pursue their passion without fear or apprehension.

8. Patrick Henry Hughes