Chicken Soup For The Sole: Ralph Braun

If you haven’t heard of Ralph Braun, I promise that his story will inspire you. Despite being born with muscular dystrophy which required him to use a wheelchair to get around, Ralph Braun continually managed to invent ingenious solutions that resulted in real-life benefits to people who are differently-abled. All it took was a lot of persistence and a little engineering know-how! Keep reading to learn more about this inspiring individual.

Overcoming Early Challenges With Innovation

Ralph Braun was born in Indiana in 1940. When he was six years old, doctors diagnosed him with muscular dystrophy, which is a disease that gradually weakens a person’s muscles. By 14, he was in a wheelchair: but he didn’t let that limit his ability to devise creative solutions. Only one year later, he and his father created a motorized scooter to help him go from place to place. More complex innovations followed: at the age of 26, he retrofitted a postal van with a lifting device, creating the very first wheelchair accessible vehicle in history. Not long after, he incorporated his first company.

Don’t Complain About a Problem When You Can Solve It!

Ralph Braun’s greatest asset was his continual ability to solve a problem instead of complaining about it. When he devised a way to outfit a minivan to allow people in wheelchairs to access vehicles, he put together a team and started filling orders from the only place he had available: his garage. He never let his physical limitations stop him; when getting around proved to be difficult, he simply invented his way out of the problem. Even if you’re not an engineer, you can surely find ways to do this in your own life.

Even Presidents have noticed Ralph Braun’s incredible tenacity: in 2012, he was named a “champion of change” by President Obama! Unfortunately, Ralph Braun passed away in 2013, but his legacy of innovation, ingenuity, and persistence continues to live on and inspire others.

I’m Jessica Cox, and I love to celebrate courageous individuals who found ways to adapt to life’s challenges and live their best possible life. If you’re interested in having me share my life story with the attendees at your convention or religious gathering, please contact me at