When people hear the word "disability," they usually think of a limitation or what a person can't do. However, if you stop and think about it, everyone has limitations, whether it's physical, emotional, educational, or just outside their comfort zone, there are things people won't or can't do.
Keshet's Annual Rainbow Banquet is on Sunday, March 17th and features Jewish celebrity guest speaker and Golden Globe Award-winning actor, director, producer, author, Henry Winkler. (You probably know him as "The Fonz.") Mr. Winkler knows all too well about overcoming limitations, and he has become one of the most celebrated icons in pop culture.
Throughout his school years, he struggled with unidentified dyslexia, and it wasn't until he was 31-years-old when he made a documentary about dyslexia, that he realized that he had this disability. Winkler struggled without help for so many years, and still managed to snag the part of Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli on Happy Days. According to Wikipedia, Garry Marshall sought to cast a hunky, blonde, Italian model-type male in the role of Fonzie, and ended up casting Winkler, a Yale MFA student, who interpreted the role in the auditions as something completely different. According to Winkler, "The Fonz was everybody I wasn't. He was everybody I wanted to be."
Winkler did not let his learning challenges get in the way of his dream, and influenced other Jewish celebrities with their own personal challenges as well. "[When] I was 13, I told Henry Winkler I wanted to act," said Marlee Matlin, an Academy Award winning actress who is deaf. "He said, 'do it and don't let anyone stand in your way.' His validation just made it all the more true. I haven't stopped thanking him since."
A wise unknown once said, "be thankful for all the struggles you go through. They make you stronger, wiser and humble. Don't let it break you, let it make you."
Your struggles are what give you strength and character. Embrace them and grow from them. Just like the children and young adults of Keshet who have had to struggle more than most, they too will grow under the care and concern of a wide reaching family of supporters of Keshet. Be one of them and attend our banquet!
For more information, visit www.keshet.org.