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DANNY WOODBURN — A Happyish Guy

Woodburn being frisked before the interview, found several disturbing objects, but no weapons Behind the scenes of Hot Flash with Lia Martirosyan playing the fed-up home owner He was always the joker: First to make his mother laugh, and then comedy club audiences. Roles in college plays led to the New York stage, and then to a roll of the dice in Los ...
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SPECIAL OLYMPICS — Mati from Israel

My son, Mati Oren, will be attending his fourth Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles this summer. At age 32, he’s been active in Special Olympics (SO) in Israel since he was 12. Born with several medical problems, he’d endured eight surgeries by the age of 4. This left him with cognitive and developmental delays. He became the ...
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Lia — Music & Laughter

It’s true, in an instant, your life can change; an accident, a ruptured aneurysm, blunt trauma to the head, a cancer diagnosis. With Lia, it’s been slow, temperamental and undiagnosed. Her blasé attitude makes one wonder if she’s just used to her body’s deception. She isn’t, she just knows where her energy is best channeled— through music and laughter. ...
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Armenia — A University of Change

Until it became independent in 1991, Armenia was one of the 15 republics that made up the Soviet Union. The country is rich in culture deeply rooted in its ancestry—what it lacks in population, the people surpass in determination. Armen Der Kiureghian, PhD, has been dividing his time between UC Berkeley and the American University of Armenia (AUA). Merely ...
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Itzhak Perlman — Musician, Maestro, Advocate

Tune in to your local classical radio station anywhere in North America, and it won’t take long for someone to mention the name Itzhak Perlman. It is rare for a musician in the classical genre to become the rock star that Perlman has become. Known for the tremendous emotion he exudes through each string he caresses, he has taken lead in dominating the title ‘virtuoso ...
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One Box at a Time

Before 2002, Chen Zhou was invisible to most people. He could’ve been any of the street singers who wandered China’s bustling streets. Today, however, he is a well-known and highly respected speaker who draws huge crowds at stadiums, schools and hospitals. Although Chen is without legs, he scaled China’s renowned Five Sacred Mountains in 2012. Since then, he’s given ...
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Jennie Juulia — Finland’s Naked Truth

When I first speak with artist and activist Jenni-Juulia Walinheimo-Heimonen in her native Finland, she has a small admission to make: “When we set this up, I forgot it was my wedding anniversary!” When I suggest we reschedule, she says no, that she and her husband have already spent a lovely day together. Walinheimo- Heimonen is a busy mother ...
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Boxer with CP

  Born in 1985 in Tianjin, China, Wang Qiang is China’s first and only professional boxer with cerebral palsy (CP). His life, he says, began in the boxing ring with days of rigorous training, competitions, and a multitude of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Although it took years to achieve, his dream of being a great Chinese boxer was finally realized ...
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Art Sets Us Free

  We would never have thought to look for the town of Shuangxi on a map if it were not the home of the International Art Education Center for the Disabled. What kind of resources allowed the Center to use the terms International and Disabled? What beliefs does its founder, Zhenglu Lin, hold? It was with these questions in mind that we set off for Shuangxi ...
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Hans — Museum of the Mind

ABILITY caught up with Hans Looijen, who heads up Het Dolhuys, the museum of the mind in Haarlem, Netherlands, when he was attending an Integrated Art Exhibition in Wuhan, China. His museum explores the boundaries between what they consider to be normal, abnormal, as well as deviant behavior. Looijen is also chairman of the International Madness & Arts Foundation. ...
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Shuilin Peng’s Stinky Tofu

Born in 1958 in Hunan Province, Shuilin Peng suffered severe injuries in a road accident in 2004 in Buji, Shenzhen. His body was amputated in half, and today he is China’s rarest truncation survivor. Shuilin Peng is less than three feet tall and walks on his two arms. He lost his lower body when a freight truck struck him ...
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Hou Bin

Born in 1975 in the city of Jiamusi in the province of Heilongjiang, China, Hou Bin lost his left leg in a devastating train accident when he was just nine years old. Today, at 40, he is a motivational speaker, a three-time Paralympic champion in the high jump, a former ambassador for Beijing’s bid for the Winter Olympics, and the last one to carry the Olympic ...
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Murder, Money and Mutts

The year was 1948. I had been a cop most of my life until I was asked to turn in my badge. They just didn’t like the way that I did things… which way? My way. Good cops would spend hours, or days, following the rules to get vital information on crimes. Me, I’d slap someone around for a ...
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Zach Anner Interview

YouTube phenomenon Zach Anner became a household name five years ago when he co-won Oprah Winfrey’s Reality TV competition, Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star. Though his wheelchair travel series, Rollin’ With Zach, was short lived, Anner has kept it moving. His YouTube channel has more than 300,000 subscribers, and tens of millions have seen ...
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Kevin Nealon — A Golfing for Cancer

  Everyone can have a role in curing cancer: from patrons, to researchers, to doctors, and even celebrities who lend their faces—and give generous checks—to the cause. At a recent Tower Cancer Research Foundation event, more than 125 players to a swing to benefit the Second Annual Jack Mishkin Memorial Golf Classic. Jack Mishkin was a philanthropist, businessman and ...
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Liu Fusheng–Living Large with Tourettes

  Professional painter Liu Fusheng had the distinction of winning a prestigious Young Artist Award in his native Singapore. Both museums and private investors have collected his work, and he’s been the subject of solo exhibitions in China and the US. Liu’s distinctive glasses, decorative crystal, and shoes hint he also might’ve made a compelling rock star or fashion ...
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A Life of Nuclear Proportions

This time, it was an earth-shattering bang. The glass window behind me shattered to the ground. I felt the whole building shake and my body grew wobbly. I quickly rushed to the front door, pulled down the switch at the lab…” -Forbidden Youth by Shijie Wei The soul-stirring scenes depicted in Forbidden Youth, a memoir by nuclear weapons researcher ...
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Part Deux

In the 15th century, medieval knights hung up their lances and suits of armor in their castle closets. Chivalry was dead and the Renaissance was born. It spread with great speed from its birthplace in Florence, Italy to the rest of Europe. Every region seemed to have its own take on humanism as there was a yearning to get ...
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Voiceye–Accessible Code

Similar looking to barcodes used on products at the grocery store, VOICEYE encodes large amounts of data into a small, printed square. Using a free app available on your smartphone, scanned VOICEYE codes can be translated and decoded in a variety of ways: print, voice, braille, or translation. Recently while visiting Seoul, Korea, ABILITY’s Lia Martirosyan spoke with Michael Park, ...
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Love of Music

A little over 900 miles southwest of Beijing, China, in the shadow of the Taihang Mountain range, you will find a small openair courtyard. Inside its walls, a musical instrument, tea and tobacco lie on an old table, surrounded by eight blind artists. They are members of the Shanxi Zuoquan Blind Publicity Team, and just beyond them are a group ...