Handicapped Filipina pilot inspires President Obama

By Rodney Jaleco, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jul 28 2010 12:09 PM | Updated as of Jul 28 2010 09:10 PM

Washington, DC - President Obama unveiled a package of measures to help Americans with disabilities to mark the passage of the landmark American with Disabilities Act 20 years ago.

One in six, about 54 million Americans suffer from some kind of disability. Despite the high numbers, the law still faced stiff opposition in Congress 20 years ago.

“It grew when you realized you were not alone, it became a massive wave of bottom-up change that swept across the country as you refused to accept the world as it was and when you were told don’t try, you can’t, you responded with that age-old American creed,’ Yes we can!‘” President Obama said.

A large crowd gathered at the White House south lawn that included movie star Marlee Matlin and diva Patty Labelle.

Filipino-American Jessica Cox was with a smaller group who got a private audience with President Obama earlier in the day.

“He said thank you for being an inspiration and I said thank you, it’s an honor to meet you,” Cox said.

Cox was born without arms. It didn’t prove to be an obstacle to earning her pilot’s wings.

“In reality, for me to be able to drive, to fly a plane when I really wanted to, just hop into an airplane with my sports pilot certificate and to be able to have that, I realized the ADA has an effect,” Cox added.

Cox also works as a motivational speaker. She was off to catch a big air show in Wisconsin after meeting with President Obama.

“I’ll be there giving presentations and meeting celebrities like Harrison Ford and (Captain Chesley) “Sully” Sullenberger and John Travolta whose first airplane he ever owned was an Air Coupe, which is the airplane I fly, so I’m looking forward to meeting him,” said Cox.

Cox and people with disabilities continue to fight for their rights. Her story shows that not having arms did not deter her from fighting on with courage and determination. Balitang America