Emmanuel Yeboah: The One-Legged Hero
“Can I get a bandage?” Emmanuel requests as he walks into a 2nd grade classroom filled with a small handful of teachers. “For my knee?”
One teacher jumps up to help before realizing Emmanuel is pointing to his prosthetic leg and smiling from ear to ear.
It’s 4 p.m. on a beautiful Friday afternoon at Cumberland Road Elementary School in Fishers, Indiana, just outside of Indianapolis, and all the students have eagerly gone home for the evening, excited to tell their parents about meeting their one-legged hero.
Emmanuel Yeboah was born in Ghana with a severely deformed right leg. Disabilities were seen as a curse at that time in Ghana, and most disabled people were often shunned from society or even left for dead. Emmanuel, however, was blessed with a loving mother who wanted the very best for her son. She took care of him and taught him that he could do anything.
What he wanted to do was change the world’s perception of disabled people.
In 2001, Emmanuel rode his bike across Ghana with just one leg to raise awareness of the disabled people in his country. Several significant people took notice of Emmanuel and his cause, beginning to make him successful in his goal. Leaders from his home country eventually gave the disabled in Ghana greater rights.
But Emmanuel isn’t stopping there. Now he wants to make it easier for disabled children in Ghana to attend school. So, he set out on another ride, this time from Dallas, Texas to Washington, D.C., a course nearly five times longer than his ride across Ghana.
Stopping in multiple cities along his route, Emmanuel is spreading his message to all that will hear. And in some cases, he makes a special trip to visit those that can’t wait to meet him.
Indianapolis wasn’t originally on Emmanuel’s planned route, but when leaders from the elementary school offered to bus all of their kids three hours to see him, he decided that taking a small detour would be easier for everyone.With the hallways lined with pictures and posters of Emmanuel drawn by the students, the single-legged cyclist stops to read every single one. He then drops down on the floor in front of one large poster, props up what he calls his robot leg, and says, “Take my picture.”
As it turns out, Cumberland Road Elementary School is part of a program called One School, One Book, where the entire school bases their curriculum around an inspirational book chosen at the beginning of the year. This year, they chose the children’s book written about his life, Emmanuel’s Dream.
Every student from this school knows what Emmanuel has accomplished. As he enters the gym where they are readily waiting to hear from him, their eyes light up and cheers ring out. And soon, Emmanuel is once again bringing inspiration to the children.
“Start thinking now about what you can do to help the world.” Emmanuel stands among the students and tells them that there is nothing they can’t do, just as his mother instilled in him.
After his message and a quick Q&A, it’s now time to give the children what they really want to see—Emmanuel riding his bike.
Everyone in the gym moves to one side of the room and Emmanuel starts riding around in circles. The excitement never fades as he gets a wave from the students each time he rides by them, again, and again, and again. But they’re about to get even more excited.
“I invite you to come ride with me tomorrow.”
Once again, cheers ring out as the students realize that they’ve been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Before Emmanuel says goodbye, he gives out high-fives and hugs to the students. He waves to them as they leave on the school busses, and then goes back inside to check out more of the students’ art in the hallways.
He has truly become a hero once again.
Read more about Emmanuel’s story here!