Helen Keller 
by Michele Irelan, Colorado 

     I have always admired a fascinating woman who I feel made huge strides in the advancement of physically handicapped people. Helen Keller became both deaf and blind as a result of meningitis, at the age of only 19 months. Few people realize the incredible achievements she made despite her handicap. 

     Helen beat all odds when she learned to read, write and speak. Up until age 7, doctors had no way of educating her, but when her parents made an appeal to Alexander Graham Bell regarding her education, Anne Sullivan became her teacher. Helen went on to attend Radcliffe College, where she graduated with honors in 1904. She became a worldwide lecturer and the author of 14 books. She dedicated her life to helping others and served as an inspiration to those with physical handicaps. 

     She has touched the lives of so many people with her story, including mine. Due to her wonderful example of conquering obstacles and her compassion for humanity, I sought after work that would allow me to become the best person I could be. One of my first jobs was working at a daycare center for handicapped children, most of whom were autistic. I was drawn to help people with disabilities and eventually began volunteering at a local nursing home, becoming well versed in communicating with seniors who could no longer see or hear as well as they used to. I learned a little sign language and soon realized the importance of Braille.

     Helen Keller taught me that no matter what challenges you face in life, you can always work through them and become a powerful player in the lives of others.