By: Esther Choi
My name is Esther, and I am a person who has multiple disabilities; I am Deaf, I have Cerebral Palsy (CP). I was born Deaf, and was diagnosed with CP. In 2009, I had severe swelling in my right foot, and made the decision to have ankle fusion surgery to relieve the severe swelling. Before making the decision to go through with the surgery, I was informed of the risks; there would be a possibility that I would lose my balance to walk normally and have limited mobility of my right foot. After learning these risks, I ultimately decided that I should go through with the surgery. I felt that it would be better to relieve the swelling, rather than continue to let the swelling get worse. The surgery was successful, and the swelling went away entirely. However, as a result, I lost the ability to bend my right ankle.
On my way to work every day, I pass the Autobahn Indoor Speedway. This is an indoor racing facility where people can race in fast-paced go-karts. There have been many times where I have stopped on my way to work, and watched the go-karts speed by. I have always wanted to go go-kart racing or drive a car, and I often pondered if I would be able to drive. I wondered, “Would I be able to drive with my limited mobility in my ankle? Would it be possible?” I put off the idea for so long, fearing that I would face a lack of accessibility, or that I simply would be told “no.”
There is a traditional perspective that people with disabilities cannot do anything. There is a view that individuals with disabilities need to be taken care of — that they need to depend on others to thrive — that they can’t think, do, or live independently — or that having a disability is wholly negative. This perspective, however, is simply an outdated outlook and untrue. All people with disabilities are unique in their own way. They can accomplish their dreams through their own means. Just because obstacles may arise, does not mean that a dream is impossible to achieve. People with disabilities are strong, and have the strength to achieve anything they put their minds to.
One day, I went to the facility with a friend and worked up the courage to evaluate/test with the staff if I would be able to drive. I informed them of my limited mobility in my ankle and asked if I would be able to race alone on the track. I explained that this would make driving easier, as I would be able to race without the worry of injury or distractions. They approved, and I anxiously waited as the group before me finished up their laps. Finally, it was time for me to drive.
I used my right ankle, and it took a bit of time but eventually I learned how to maneuver the car so that I could race. And it worked! I could drive! I was so excited, joyful, and proud of myself because I thought I would not be able to race due to my disabilities.
I learned a couple of things after that day. You never know that you can do something until you try. There are so many things you can try, experiment, and enjoy! Live your life to the fullest. Disability doesn’t limit you; the biggest obstacle one will face is fear itself. If you have a dream, you can achieve it. You are capable of more than you know!