Last year, a picture book featuring Emmanuel Yeboah came out, written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls. Emmanuel was born in Ghana with only one leg, and by the law of the land, should have been killed at birth. Instead, his mother raised him and encouraged him to get an education, work hard for what he wanted, and to help others.
When Emmanuel was in his early twenties, he wrote to the Challenged Athletes Foundation requesting a bike so that he could ride around Ghana and raise awareness for others like him who had disabilities. With reporters in tow, he rode 400 miles around Ghana, interviewing others and sharing stories along the way. Later, the Challenged Athletes Foundation invited him to the US to have an operation that would prepare him to receive a prosthetic. With this prosthetic, he has now participated in triathlons, played on amputee soccer teams, and biked across America.
In his spare time, Emmanuel meets with school children, libraries, and lawmakers around the world to help influence policies and laws that will help disabled people. Through it all, he is a reminder to all of us that one person, no matter what physical shape you might be in, can truly make a difference in the world.
In September, several librarians in my county worked together to bring Emmanuel to five of our schools and speak to our students. Later that night, my husband and I took Emmanuel to dinner and talked to him about his life. At the end of the week, Emmanuel flew to from Northern Virginia to Dallas to start a 25 day bike ride, which will end with him visiting the White House.