If it’s a small world, it’s an even smaller online world. I got an email from a St. Louis cousin of mine a couple weeks ago setting me up with an Facebook friend of hers who lives in the next town over from us (got all that?). Her name is Melissa Amster, and we have a lot in common! I can see why my cousin introduced us. Today, it’s my pleasure to introduce her to you through her contribution to the Women Who Inspire Us Series!
You can read the previous posts in the series here. You may also want to subscribe to my RSS feed, or “like” my Facebook page to catch the upcoming posts. As always, if you would like to share your inspiration by participating in the series, please contact me. I would LOVE to hear who inspires you!
“Unlimited…my future is unlimited.”
Whenever I hear this line from “The Wizard and I,” I think of Ali Stroker. And it’s not just because she used a song from Wicked as her final audition performance for The Glee Project, Season Two. She defines the word “unlimited.”
I am a fan of Glee and love audition shows, so The Glee Project was right up my alley (so to speak). I fell in love with it during season one and then came back for season two. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of the 13 finalists in the new season. They were all over the place with their talent and personal stories. However, one contestant in particular stuck out for me…Ali Stroker.
Ali was paralyzed from the chest down as the result of a car accident when she was two years old. She had physical therapy during her preschool years and wears a chest brace. She is wheelchair bound, but doesn’t let her disability keep her from achieving her dreams. In turn, she strives to inspire other individuals with disabilities who want to pursue their dreams. Based on what I read in her Glee Project wiki, she’s a force to be reckoned with!
Personally, I do not have any disabilities. However, Ali has inspired me nonetheless. The fact that she can sing (and incredibly so) while her paralysis has limited the muscles one would normally use for vocalization and also “dance” with her wheelchair, simply saying “I can’t” is not an excuse for whatever I wish to pursue. If Ali can perform on stage, then I can write a novel!
It’s not only that she has a “can do” attitude about everything asked of her (at least from what I’ve seen on The Glee Project), but she’s also full of positive energy. I rarely ever saw her without a smile, unless she was nervous. And even then, she wasn’t berating herself if she felt her performance didn’t meet up to her standards. She owned everything she put out there and her stage presence commanded attention. It was hard to take my eyes off of her. I also loved that when she talked to the camera behind the scenes, she made TV viewers feel like she was letting them in on a special secret. She had the ability to do that with her facial expressions and voice. Even when she didn’t get cast on Glee, she still was in good spirits, knowing she did her absolute best and ready to move on to whatever else is in store for her future. I was more disappointed by the outcome of the director’s choice than she was. (And I’m sure a lot of other viewers were, as well.)
Ali is an inspiration to anyone who tries to limit themselves in any way. I only wish more musical theater roles were accommodating to people with disabilities, as she would take Broadway by storm. I also hope that my kids will get to see her perform someday. I have two children with hearing loss who wear cochlear implants. I worry about them getting down on themselves or using their hearing loss as a crutch in some way. If that ever happens, I will find a way for them to see Ali in all her glory and hope that they will be inspired as much as I was. (Now I just need to get that novel written!)
Melissa is a 30-something Modern Orthodox Jewish mom of two boys and a girl. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and works for a Jewish non-profit. In the meantime, she loves to read and has a book blog that celebrates chick lit. She’s also a parent blogger for Empowering Parents and writes about pop culture, motherhood, Judaism and everything else over at her personal blog. Aside from reading and blogging, she loves to bake challahs and desserts, sing, watch movies, and spend time with family and friends. You can find her on Twitter.