Bill Demby: Profile
Bill Demby came close to being a Vietnam veteran statistic. After losing both legs in combat, he spent the next 10 years in a wheelchair and a drug and alcohol haze. But with determination and the help of friends, he separated himself from drug pushers and bars. Consulting with a manufacturer to improve the agility of artificial limbs, Demby rekindled his love of sports and his dream of becoming a championship athlete.
He tells thousands of people he addresses as the national spokesperson for Disabled Sports USA, "If you can't make your dreams come true, don't give up on them, just modify them a little." Demby did just that. He has held national records for the shot put, javelin and discus. He uses his wheelchair primarily to win marathons and basketball trophies. He teaches other disabled people to ski, but prefers the master slopes when out for fun. Vietnam veterans salute Demby for making his handicap a conspicuous, but not limiting, part of his life. His sense of humor and self-assurance help drive home his messages.
He is still known for his cameo appearance in an award-winning TV commercial. Demby is portrayed as falling during a pick-up basketball game, exposing his artificial legs and feet and surprising everyone who anxiously awaits his reaction. As he easily rejoins the game, he demonstrates to millions that disabled athletes can be tough opponents. "We are more than wonderful, inspirational stories," he said.
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