Published by Debra Taylor, | June 27, 2016
I had the great pleasure to attend the Annual Valley Hospital Auxiliary luncheon last week, where we heard from Ali Stoker, actress and Star of the television show “Glee.” Disabled since the age of 2 as a result of a car accident, Stroker discussed her challenges growing up, and the support of her family and community. Unable to play lacrosse or soccer, or even lead a “normal life,” she was taught to focus on what she could do. She learned how to advocate, how to connect with others, and how to see opportunities even in the direst of circumstances. She reminded us that Events + Response = Outcome (or E + R = O) because, although we cannot control the events in our life, we can control our responses.
“Make your limitations your opportunities.” – Ali Stroker
Stroker talked to us about her time at the NYU Tisch School of Drama, where she was the first to graduate in a wheelchair. While at Tisch, she became proficient at “translation,” interpreting jazz dances for her classes, twirling her wheel chair around and using her body, mind and wheelchair movements to translate jazz. She also talked about auditions with 44,000 other aspiring actresses, and waiting for years to be cast with “Glee.”
Stroker volunteers extensively with various organizations, and has even served as a teacher to children and mothers in South Africa. She has also starred on Broadway in Spring Awakening, being the first actress in a wheelchair to star on Broadway, among her many other accomplishments. Her limitations have become her opportunity, and she is committed to telling her story and the stories of others in her community. Stroker’s inspirational message touched us all, and provides hope and promise to continue on our journeys with faith.