A Life Well Lived

An inspiring story of a man who changed the world with his [dis] ability!


Rise above my friends, and reach back to help others climb the ladder of life.” Do you know who said these words? Sounds like some olympic athlete or a world class surgeon. Isn't it? Actually these words are of Ralph W Braun - a man who had spinal muscular atrophy since childhood.


It may seem like it is very hard to feel accepted and included in our society if you are different from others. You are discouraged and treated with disdain and made to feel that nothing that you will ever do is going to work out. Your life needs to be just seen through and managed. Success and achievement may seem like impossible dreams. 


Most people quickly become victims and fall into depths of anger and pity. But then there are some who get inspired by this - like Ralph W Braun. Diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at an early age, Ralph went through the struggle with a quiet determination. He stayed positive and tried to surround himself with good people. This positivity paid off and along with a combination of determination, imagination and dedication, Ralph Braun surprised the world with his inventions. Those who thought he would never amount to anything much had to stand up and join the applause that Ralph created for himself. His search for mobility helped the world get moving - literally. 


During high school, Braun felt the need for an electric powered scooter that could take him around easily and quickly. His clunky wheelchair was too slow to match his fast moving intellect. Help was available close by. His uncles were accomplished engineers and his cousin’s garage became his laboratory. The famous electric scooter was  invented and happily used. Later, when his workplace relocated far away from his house, he simply modified his Dodge van in such a way that his wheelchair easily entered the van and he could comfortably drive to work.


From struggling to drive his wheelchair in high school to designing the world’s first wheelchair lift, Braun’s life gradually became an inspiration for everyone. When God takes something away from you, he usually gives something better in return. Braun was given the gift of engineering. He used this gift to provide mobility to the world and get other people in similar situations to get moving. Mobility became not just his passion but a full blown obsession which made the world become a better place. 


Necessity usually is the mother of invention. Ralph’s physical limitations served as fuel to his determination to live independently and participate actively in life. His personal journey towards independent living evolved into BraunAbility, a leading manufacturer of mobility products across the globe. Ralph passed away in 2013 at the age of 72 but left behind a successful mobility movement. He changed the world for people with disabilities and made their lives as normal as everyone else's. His contributions may look small but he quietly ushered in a mobility revolution that sustains through this day. 


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