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12 People Who Proved That Nothing Is Impossible

There’s no such word as “can’t”. If you ask these people anyway. You’re never too old, and it’s never too late to start something new – just ask The Open University.

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1. The woman with Locked In Syndrome who completed a degree by blinking.

© Newsteam / SWNS Group
© Newsteam / SWNS Group

After suffering from a stroke shortly after giving birth in 2003, age 30, Dawn Faizey Webster was left with Locked In Syndrome: a condition that leaves you trapped within your own body, fully paralysed apart from small head movements and your eyes.

With the help of a specialised laptop that read her eye movements, spending three hours a day nudging buttons with her head and typing letters with her eyes, she was able to complete a 2:2 degree in Ancient History AND write her autobiography.

"When I passed my degree, I was so pleased and proud of myself," she said. "No matter what obstacles were in my way, such as getting pneumonia twice and other lesser illnesses, I was determined to reach my goal."

2. The 94-year-old skydiver.

With permission from Action for Children
With permission from Action for Children

Despite being six years shy of a century, Cliff Dadson, from Cumbria, lept 13,500 feet from a plane as part of a tandem skydive to raise money for Action for Children.

Action for Children Chief Executive Sir Tony Hawkhead said of Cliff, “Amazing people like him – who go above and beyond to make the world a better place – are real heroes.”

3. The 102-year-old marathon runner who was awarded a British Empire Medal.

Despite never hitting the pavement until he was in his late 80s, Fauja Singh went on not only to compete in several marathons – he is a world record holder in his age bracket. He ran his first marathon age 89, and has run nine full marathons since. This year, he was awarded with the prestigious British Empire Medal to mark his achievements.When asked for the secret of his success he said "Being active is like a medication. I don't want to withdraw from that medication."
Getty Images / Stringer / Via gettyimages.co.uk

Despite never hitting the pavement until he was in his late 80s, Fauja Singh went on not only to compete in several marathons – he is a world record holder in his age bracket.

He ran his first marathon age 89, and has run nine full marathons since. This year, he was awarded with the prestigious British Empire Medal to mark his achievements.

When asked for the secret of his success he said "Being active is like a medication. I don't want to withdraw from that medication."

4. The table tennis champion who beat extraordinary odds.

youtube.com / Via sploid.gizmodo.com

When he was just 10 years old, Ibrahim Hamato lost both his upper limbs in a train accident, but that didn’t stop him going on to reach his goals. With his paddle in his mouth, the Egyptian father-of-three went on to win a silver medal at the 2013 African Para-Table Tennis Championships.

His motto: "Nothing is impossible as long as you work hard."

5. Esref Armagan, "The Artist With No Eyes".

With permission from Esref Armagan armagan.com
With permission from Esref Armagan armagan.com

Despite being born blind, and to an impoverished family, Esref Armagan taught himself to both write and paint.

The self-proclaimed 'Artist With No Eyes' draws the outline of his paintings with a braille stylus, then uses oil paint to paint the pictures. Which is all the more amazing when you realise that he has never seen the things that he is depicting. You can see more of his work here

6. The 7/7 survivor who became a champion volleyball star.

In 2005, Martine Wright lost both her legs in the 7/7 terrorist attack at Aldgate tube station.She started taking part in wheelchair basketball games as part of her rehab before switching to sitting volleyball. She made her debut as a Paralympian in 2010, and hopes to become an ambassador for disabled sports.When asked the secret of her success, she said, “What I realised from a very early stage is that so many people out there are worse off than me."
GLYN KIRK / Stringer / Via gettyimages.co.uk

In 2005, Martine Wright lost both her legs in the 7/7 terrorist attack at Aldgate tube station.

She started taking part in wheelchair basketball games as part of her rehab before switching to sitting volleyball. She made her debut as a Paralympian in 2010, and hopes to become an ambassador for disabled sports.

When asked the secret of her success, she said, “What I realised from a very early stage is that so many people out there are worse off than me."

7. The scientist who left school at 13.

Despite having very little formal education and leaving school at 13 Michael Faraday became one of the most influential scientists in history. He was considered so influential that he was even honoured by having his face put on the £20 note (1991 -2001).
DEA / A. DAGLI ORTI / Contributor / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.co.uk

Despite having very little formal education and leaving school at 13 Michael Faraday became one of the most influential scientists in history. He was considered so influential that he was even honoured by having his face put on the £20 note (1991 -2001).

8. The man who scaled Everest despite being blind.

Scaling Mount Everest is hard enough, let alone without the use of sight, but that’s exactly what Erik Weihenmayer did climbing the summit in 2001. Thanks to technology which translated images from a camera into vibrations on the tip of his tongue, allowing him to sense what was around him, he is still the only blind person to ever complete one of Earth’s greatest challenges.The secret to Erik's success: "What's within you is stronger than what's in your way," he says.
Hyoung Chang / Contributor / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.co.uk

Scaling Mount Everest is hard enough, let alone without the use of sight, but that’s exactly what Erik Weihenmayer did climbing the summit in 2001. Thanks to technology which translated images from a camera into vibrations on the tip of his tongue, allowing him to sense what was around him, he is still the only blind person to ever complete one of Earth’s greatest challenges.

The secret to Erik's success: "What's within you is stronger than what's in your way," he says.

9. The nun who took on Ecuador's toughest criminals to bring young people education.

View this video on YouTube

Former nun and schoolteacher Nelsa Curbelo has walked the meanest, roughest streets in Ecuador to meet and talk to young impoverished people.

Once she figured out the best way to help, she founded Ser Paz ("being peace") in 1999 and began her work to encourage many former gang members and criminals to go back to school or attend other classes to help them transform their lives.

10. The blogger who raised almost £5 million for charity.

Stephen Sutton, MBE was a blogger and charity activist who helped raise over £4.96 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity, despite going through aggressive rounds of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Thousands of people attended a vigil in his name when he sadly lost his battle to cancer in May 2014.
WPA Pool / Pool / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.co.uk

Stephen Sutton, MBE was a blogger and charity activist who helped raise over £4.96 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity, despite going through aggressive rounds of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Thousands of people attended a vigil in his name when he sadly lost his battle to cancer in May 2014.

11. The female doctor who had to dress as a man to practice medicine.

Margaret Ann Bulkley was born at a time when women didn't have too many career options. So her family conspired to send her to medical school under the male name "James Barry". She spent the next 50 years living as a man, despite rumours that she birthed a child at some point, and revolutionised wartime medicine.
en.wikipedia.org / Via en.wikipedia.org

Margaret Ann Bulkley was born at a time when women didn't have too many career options. So her family conspired to send her to medical school under the male name "James Barry". She spent the next 50 years living as a man, despite rumours that she birthed a child at some point, and revolutionised wartime medicine.

12. The girl who was shot for wanting an education.

ABC / youtube.com theoncomingstormborns.tumblr.com aka fvllbuster.tumblr.com / Via imgur.com

Malala Yousafzai is an activist for female education and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen for daring to speak out about female education.

Nothing is impossible. Broaden your horizons in 2015 with The Open University!