You may have heard of several fundraisers and events being organized for the welfare of differently-abled people. How often do you come across people with disability performing on stage to raise funds for a noble cause? Not too often; not too often at all!
The first half of February saw one such heartwarming performance at the Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana where America’s favorite survivor Rupert Boneham and Guinness World record holder Dan Meyer were joined by Jim Goldman and Danny Frasier to raise money for women planning mission work in Rigoma Tanzania in summer this year. While Meyer and Boneham are well known names, this article isn’t so much about them as it is about Goldman and Frasier who are also icons in their own right.
Frasier stands less than 3 feet tall and was born with fetal alcohol syndrome which rendered his legs useless. At the age of 3, they were amputated, though the doctors did leave small stumps in case he wished to use prosthetics. He didn’t.
When he greeted the audience in the jam packed stadium of Ball State University he was dressed in flashy clothes that were so typical of the King of Pop – Elvis Presley. He regaled onlookers with the “World’s Smallest Elvis” act, mimicking the legend’s signature moves, much to the delight of all those present there.
The impression was followed by several other songs and ended with an inspiring talk that took the audience through the adversities Frasier faced in life and how he faced all of them. When asked about the fundraiser, he said “I think it’s wonderful. If it’s something to change the world, to make it a better place to live, hey, I’m all for it.”
The second performer that stole the show was Jim Goldman – a man that was mysteriously born without any arms – a condition that even leading men in the field of medical science were unable to explain. However, Goldman didn’t allow this cruel joke to dim his zest for life. “I’m not missing nothing. I don’t let nothing stop me or slow me down.”
His act on stage proved just as much as he demonstrated remarkable dexterity with his legs. He was able to perform a range of tasks – from something as basic as brushing his teeth and wiping his nose to cutting a board with a circular saw. In fact, he stunned the audience by throwing knives with great accuracy at a wooden target placed 20 feet away.
If you think that’s incredible, chew on this. Goldman made a 4.5-hour trip from Illinois driving a truck that hasn’t been modified in any way at all. And, he owns a bar, leads fishing and hunting expeditions, and runs a landscaping business. No wonder he was featured in ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’. When asked about how he felt about the fundraiser he said, “They’re trying to raise money to do a good thing, so I’ll volunteer my time.”
Mary Ruble, the lady behind the mission to Africa who had asked Meyer’s help to raise money for the cause was overwhelmed by the performances. However, she says her “lasting impressions were actually formed behind the scenes as I observed Jim [Goldman] and Danny [Frasier] just living their lives. I realized how much I take for granted every single day of my life.”
Sword swallower Dan Meyer sums up the spirit of the fundraiser in the following words: ”The things all of the performers in the show have in common is that we’ve all learned to overcome obstacles to do what seems impossible to others, and by doing so, we can help change people’s attitudes and in our own way, help change the world.”