Geri’s Survivor Guide


Because I was on a sitcom called The Facts of Life, and because I know the actress Lisa Whelchel, I have received tons of e-mails asking me if I am aware that Lisa will be on upcoming episodes of the CBS reality series, Survivor. Well, of course, I was aware of it, and I support Lisa 100 percent. On another note though, I have been asked if I would consider doing Survivor as well. Truthfully, I thought of doing it quite a while back, and there are many directions we could go in.

For example, the show could feature only people with cerebral palsy—among others, RJ Mitte, Josh Blue and Tom Ritter. Again, we could broaden the spectrum and have the competition include all people with disabilities, although the athletes would have an unfair edge against those like myself. So, how could Survivor embrace people with disabilities and be totally fair?

Well, why not have six people with “real” disabilities compete against celebrities who have to simulate a disability and not sway from the disability that they have been assigned. For example, Heather McDonald would have to do her impression of “Cousin Geri”; Rush Limbaugh would have to have electrical tape across his mouth and one arm taped to his torso; Charlie Sheen would have to be blindfolded; Simon Cowell could only speak with a talking board and with one finger on each hand tapped down; Kris Jenner must wear a 200-pound fat suit and have no access to Botox; and Tom Cruise must be a wheelchair user and have no access to the Church of Scientology. Who would be the winner here? Probably Charlie Sheen, because even if he lost, he would no doubt spin it into a profitable self-marketing blitz.

Truthfully, those of us with real disabilities could easily out-survive these celebrities on an island any day, because the real winners in life are those of us who have always been survivors and are recognized for our abilities and not our disabilities. Those of us who are the real survivors in life include among many others: Michael J. Fox, Josh Blue, Marlee Matlin, John W. Quinn, The Push Girls, Stevie Wonder and Gabrielle Giffords.

All in all, winners in life do not see themselves as victims and know deep down that their greatest attribute is maintaining a positive attitude. The real disabilities in life are not the human conditions that challenge us, but the learned conditions that can destroy us: hatred, prejudice, abuse, deception, greed, hypocrisy, false pride and despair.

To survive in life, we must also keep strong in spirit. We cannot give up in the face of hardship. We must have compassion and empathy for others, as well as a good sense of humor. Because if we cannot laugh at ourselves and see the humor in any given situation, then we will become bitter. “Occupying bitterness” takes a lot of wasted energy; “occupying happiness” takes courage and perseverance!

by Geri Jewell

Articles in the Joe Mantegna Issue; Senator Harkin — US Budget Must Reflect Our Values; Ashley Fiolek — A Concussion Tests Her Ability; Humor — All in the Family; Web Widget — Accessibility Works; Chinese Art — Raw Beauty of the Innocents; Geri’s — Survivor Guide; Golf Pro — One Arm, Limitless Possibilities; Road Trip — MS Changes a Biker’s Course; Charlie Kimball — Racing Against Diabetes; Joe Mantegna — When Life Flips the Script; Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson — Crusader For Autism; DRLC — Beware Genetic Discrimination; Betsy Valnes — Connect the Dots in Disability Circles; ABILITY’s Crossword Puzzle; CRPD — Information and Communication Technologies; Events and Conferences…


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