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Ryan: Why My Shaq-Sized Wish Changed

A young Ryan is pictured with Shaquille O'Neal

I grew up in the middle of central Illinois.

It seemed I was the only disabled kid in the entire county, although that is not statistically accurate.

I was a huge Shaquille O’Neal fan.

He was my guy, my hero.

Super big, relatable and kind of funny.

I watched every NBA game with Shaq, and I dreamt of playing alongside Shaq, winning NBA titles like never before.

But, as I watched his games, I saw something that dimmed my Shaq-sized dreams.

It was the commercials of kids who looked like me, and even had my disability.

They were always shown in hospitals, wrapped in bandages like a mummy, plugged into a number of devices, and surrounded by friends and family as if the end was near.

Honestly, I know what it’s like to be that kid in the hospital

I did not need or want to see reminders of my days in the hospital.

Rather, what I needed as a kid was to see kids who looked like me living the dream I had.

Playing basketball.

And winning.

After developing personal relationships with many Paralympic athletes in the U.S. and around the world, I realized disabled people can play basketball, and we can win a lot.

A woman is shown pushing her black wheelchair racing chair.
When I spent time with Paralympic athletes, like Amanda McGrory (shown), my perspective on my own dreams changed

That’s why I created Team Trust: to show — and prove — that disabled people, sure, endure some challenges, but we also have very, very awesome lives.

To learn why and how to easily integrate disability into your marketing, check out our free disability marketing guide.

Consumers want brands to show diversity in their ads.

Diversity includes disability.

1 thought on “Ryan: Why My Shaq-Sized Wish Changed

  1. Great suggestion!

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