Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Anything Is Possible

Trolling the Internet the other day for a column idea, I invented a game. I call it Anything Is Possible. The game begins by asking a simple question: What’s one obstacle that might prevent someone from achieving a dream?

The first round, I chose blindness. I asked myself, “What dream would a blind person be unable to pursue?” Piloting a plane is the first thing that came to mind. Fully expecting zero results, I Googled “blind pilot.”

I was shocked to learn that at least two blind men have become pilots: Steve Cunningham, who lost his sight at age 12 (see photo at right); and Miles Hilton-Barber, who has been blind for 25 years. Both use co-pilots, but computer software enables the men to be fully in control.

Okay, I thought, maybe planes have become so high-tech that sight is no longer needed to pilot them. But what about driving? Surely a blind man can’t drive. So I Googled “blind driver.”

To my amazement, I discovered that in 1995, Hein Wagner, a South African who has been blind from birth, broke the record for fastest blind driver. (See photo at right.) Driving a Maserati, he reached a speed of 167 miles an hour. (Note that the record is for fastest blind driver, not only blind driver.)

Then I Googled “blind doctor” and came up with at least five men and women who have become physicians. Two are in rehabilitation medicine, two are psychiatrists, and one is an osteopath.

Deaf musicians? There’s Evelyn Glennie, an award-winning percussionist; Shawn Dale Barnett, a deaf drummer who passed away in 2003; and, of course, Beethoven.

I found a marathon double-amputee (Clare Forbes), a dyslexic writer (Stephen J. Cannell, author of 11 novels and creator of 21 Jump Street), and a once-destitute millionaire (Chris Gardner, the inspiration for the movie The Pursuit of Happyness).

The list goes on and on. Try it yourself and see what happens.

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