Helen Keller

Helen Keller is a woman of great achievement as well as great triumph over adversity. At 18 months old, she became ill with what many people believe was scarlet fever or meningitis. After her fever broke she had lost her senses of sight and hearing. Her parents relentlessly tried to find her help and after speaking with a specialist, they were referred to Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. He suggested they take her to the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston and that is where Keller met Anne Sullivan. 

Now Keller was not a great student at first. She was prone to tantrums and had a hard time connecting between objects and the finger spelling that Sullivan was attempting to teach her. It was not until Sullivan took her to the water pump did Keller connect. After that first moment, she went from object to object learning their names. By the end of that day she had learned 30 words. 

After that moment, there was no stopping Keller.  She mastered several methods of communication including touch-lip reading, Braille, speech, typing, and finger spelling. She even graduated college with honors from Radcliffe in 1904 at the age of 24. 

Image of Braille

Image of Braille

Keller became a well known champion for people with disabilities. She wrote several novels and gave lectures about her experiences.  She helped found the American Civil Liberties Union and co-founded Helen Keller International. She was also an active member of both the American Federation for the Blind and American Braille Press. She also wrote a series of essays on socialism called, "Out of the Dark." 

Keller was appointed counselor of international relations for the American Foundation of Overseas Blind in 1946, and between then and 1957, she traveled to 35 countries on five continents. At the age of 75, she went on a  40,000-mile, five-month trek across Asia. All the while, she brought inspiration through her speeches and appearances. 

Her autobiography, "The Story of My Life," was made into a movie called the "Miracle Worker," and was turned into a Broadway play.

Keller died at the ripe old age of 88 in 1968 and during her lifetime, she received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments. This included the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal in 1936, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, and election to the Women's Hall of Fame in 1965. She also received honorary doctoral degrees from Temple University and Harvard University and from the universities of Glasgow, Scotland; Berlin, Germany; Delhi, India; and Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Additionally, she was named an Honorary Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland.

Helen Keller is the hero of the week because, let's face it, she accomplished so much even after she was given a major handicap.