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20 Latina Celebrities And Icons You Didn’t Know Had Disabilities

In the disabled community, the word “disabled” has been reclaimed and used to show community, strength, and love for the diversity of disability. “Disabled” is an umbrella term that includes those who are physically disabled and those who may have physically undetectable illnesses such as mental illness and autoimmune diseases. Not everyone who has a chronic illness or mental illness identifies as being disabled but they are valid in their experience and will always be supported by the disabled community.

Here are 20 Famous Latinas who you may or may not know are disabled!

1. Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek/Instagram

Salma Hayek is a household name all over Mexico and The United States, but what isn’t usually known about her is that she is dyslexic. Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes reading difficult. Diagnosed in her teens, Hayek did fairly well in school in Mexico citing that she was a fast learner which could of been the reason it took so long for the school to realize she was dyslexic. After leaving the National University of Mexico to pursue her dreams in Hollywood she realized her dyslexia and the language barrier of not knowing English would be a problem. Nevertheless, she pushed through thanks to movie scripts like “Frida,” broke through in Hollywood and was able to find ways to make script reading easier by taking her time with them even if it meant being a slow reader. She now speaks about her experience as a Latina with dyslexia to show it’s possible to succeed regardless of a learning disability.

2. Michelle Rodriguez

Michelle Rodriguez/Instagram

The Dominican/Puerto Rican Fast and the Furious is known for being a badass on and off screen with acting, writing and directing. But when she’s not hustling she’s speaking up about having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and advocating for Latinos with invisible disabilities. Being in film and beginning a career in writing and directing she found it a challenge because she found it difficult to focus and scatterbrained. While others with ADD choose medicine (a perfectly fine thing to do) Rodriguez felt that way wasn’t for her and instead focused on ways to keep herself in control of her brain. She is constantly educating people about her disability and working dismantle the stigmas associated with Latinos with invisible disabilities in Hollywood but also outside it.

3. Gina Rodriguez

 
Gina Rodriguez/Instagram

Known for her fierce and positive character Jane from Jane The Virgin, Rodriguez is if not more fierce and positive than her character Jane. The Puerto Rican actress has been working on reflecting that positiveness when dealing with her hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s Disease. Hyperthyroidism is an overproduction of hormones from the thyroid which Rodriguez was diagnosed with at 19 years old. Hashimoto’s Disease is a disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid, Rodriguez was diagnosed at 26 years old. Feeling overwhelmed with the problems that come from both illnesses (weight gain, memory issues, fatigue, anxiety) she decided to spend years ignoring her health issues. But once she made a name for herself thanks to Jane The Virgin and taking high dose medication for her thyroid, she began to experience debilitating panic attacks. After hitting rock bottom she decided to take control of her life by changing her diet to fit her health problems, lowered her dose of medication and focused on improving her overall mental and physical health. Now managing her health, she’s working hard on movie projects and showing that even celebrities are like us and have to work on their health.

4. Demi Lovato


Demi Lovato/Instagram

This one shouldn’t be a surprise as the powerful half Mexican/Irish has been vocal about having Bipolar Disorder since being diagnosed in 2011. After years of dealing with eating disorders, drug addiction and cutting, the diagnosis of her being bipolar gave a little insight of what was happening and a way for her to manage every to her best abilities. Since then she has been thriving in her health and her activism by giving back to the community of those who deal with mental illness. During her most recent concert tour she had free mental health counselling available for all of her fan. As she shows the positive aspects of getting diagnosed, getting help and maintaining her bipolar disorder, her new song “Sober” which was released on June 21st, showed that after 6 years of sobriety she had replaced and that having mental illness is a complicated thing to mange. She’s working on recovering again but her humanity and being open about her disorder is helping others open about their illness and seek help.

5. Selena Gomez

 
Selena Gomez/Instagram

Selena Gomez has always been an extremely hard worker from her days acting on the children’s TV show Barney & Friends to producing the controversial Netflix Original “13 Reasons Why,” she’s never backed down from a challenge. Especially since the one challenge, this Mexican/Italian has dealt with since 2012 was being diagnosed with Lupus. Lupus is an inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to attack itself. Gomez announces via instagram that her lupus had put her in a life or death situation resulting in her needing a kidney transplant. Thankfully her best friend and fellow actress Francia Raisa was able to give Gomez her kidney and save her life. Since revealing the details of problems her lupus has caused, donations flooded into the Lupus Research Alliance from fans in support of their favorite actress. Gomez’s willingness to speak up about her health has shed light on an illness often ignored.

6. Bella Thorne

 
Bella Thorne/Instagram

If you’ve been following this Cuban/Italian actress since her Disney Channel days, then you will have remembered the commercials Disney ran of Throne talking about her struggles with Dyslexia. Since Disney, Thorne has been killing it in starring in movies, directing movies and most recently writing her own book series Autumn Falls. Growing up with dyslexia was difficult for her since having to leave school in third grade to focus on acting. During an interview with Harper Bazzar, she says “I just felt so fucking stupid. It was really hard for a long time because I was always told I was stupid girl.” when her dyslexia made it difficult to read scripts. But because of the same scripts, she was able to improve with her reading and writing and now today thriving in an industry that isn’t so friendly to invisible disabilities. Throne shows no signs of slowing down and her dyslexia is the least of her worries now with her career.

7. Camila Cabello

 
Camila Cabello/Instagram

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has a wide range of how it affects people. For this Cuban singer, her day to day experiences of obsessive thoughts and urges is something she’s learned to laugh about in order to handle it. She told INSIDER magazine “I get really stressed thinking about something, I’ll start to have the same thought over and over again, and no matter how many times I get to the resolution, I feel like something bad is about to happen if I don’t keep thinking about it.” While having OCD can be stressful and challenging, Cabello has cited having a good support system of family and friends who point out when she’s getting stuck in thoughts has been a way to help her have a sense of control over it.

8. Camila Mendes

 
Camila Mendes/Instagram

While the CW’s Riverdale star has been turning heads with her performance, the Brazilian star is also being a voice for those who have dealt with eating disorders (ED) just like her. Opening up on text Instagram post she revealed her struggles with ED and offered support for those in a situation like hers. Growing up she was obsessed with being thin and being in an industry that vales thinness over realistic body types, that added. Mendes has been able to deal with her ED and has now begun working on bringing awareness to how ED can happen and what we can do to help. She offers resources and support via Instagram to fans, and those in the industry like hers to seek help and no they are not alone.

9. Jessica Alba

 
Jessica Alba/Instagram

The Mexican American mother/actress and entrepreneur has been open about her life on social media on how she raises her kids, what she eats and more recently that she lives with OCD. In an interview with CosmoGirl, she said “I used to unplug every single appliance in my house. Or I’d double-check every door in my house to make sure it was locked at night.” After it got to the point where she felt out of control, Alba began working on herself and getting support from family to take her OCD head on. Jessica Alba doesn’t speak much anymore about her OCD but we know she’s thriving with the support of family and friends. 

10. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo/Instagram

While the famous Mexican artist was known for challenging gender norms, her provocative art, famous marriage to Diego Rivera, and her accident, most people tend to ignore that she was disabled. Frida Kahlo was involved in an accident when she was young that left her with chronic pain. Because of her chronic pain, she used mobility aids such as wheelchairs and canes to give her the freedom to explore the world around her. Her art and writings are saturated with her experiences living with chronic pain and mental illness. In 2006, long after her death, an autopsy of her body showed that she possible was born and lived with Spina Bifida, a defect of the spine. 

11. Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria/Instagram

In 2013, Eva Longoria opened up on the Dr. Oz show that she became severely depressed after dealing with her two year public divorce to ex husband Tony Parker in 2011. Expressing that she wasn’t aware she was depressed at first, she just knew that facing life again as a single woman was going to be difficult. Always striving to keep an upbeat attitude, she didn’t categorize herself as being depressed, just sad. She assumed she would just move on eventually, but it wasn’t until she had a doctors appointment where they recognized her depression was affecting her physical health. Since then, she’s been focusing on improving her diet along with acknowledging her depression and seeking help with it. 

12. Patricia Navidad

Patricia Navidad/Instagram

The Mexican singer who rose to fame when she was 17 after winning the Miss Sonola Beauty Contest has battled with bulimia and anorexia for a long time. Never opening up much about it nor of her health issue with a brain tumor, Navidad has reminded focused on health, happiness with her family and her singing. Along with making us laugh at her witty comebacks to trolls on the internet. 

13. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey/Instagram

The Afro-Venezuelan/Irish singer learned in 2001 that she had bipolar II disorder. After opening up to People Magazine about her fears of losing everything if people found out, she lived for years in denial and isolation. She later began therapy and wanted to share her experiences of managing her bipolar disorder as a way to hopefully end the stigma that comes with having mental illness. Her openness has lead to other celebrities such a Chrissy Teigen to open up her struggles with postpartum depression. 

14. Ana Bárbara

Ana Barbara/Instagram

The Mexican singer confirmed in via Twitter in March of 2011 that she has been dealing with anorexia and depression for years and was receiving treatment in Spain. After receiving help in Spain and not speaking much after about it, she has relocated to the United States and lives with her children. 

15. Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera/Instagram

The half Ecuadorian singer known for always turning heads with her music has always been vocal about mental illness and her struggles with depression. The first time in the public eye she opened up about the realities of mental illness was with her iconic song “Beautiful”.  That song began a dialogue about her own mental illness and dealing with depression since she was 12 years old. Her goal since the release of that music video has been to have people understand that no one chooses to be depressed, it’s something they can’t help. But support and access to help are what can benefit those who live with depression. 

16. Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez/Instagram

In her published tell-all book “True Love”, the Puerto Rican actress/singer expressed she dealt with severe anxiety that left her sleep deprived and caused other health issues. A lot of anxiety because triggered by her divorce from Marc Anthony, she felt consumed with worry about what was happening to her. Expressing that she felt so scared, a type of fear that you can’t even scream. Currently, she calls herself a W.I.P, which stands for “a work in progress”. She is still learning and growing on how to manage her anxiety. 

17. Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan/Instagram

The iconic Cuban American singer endured an accident in 1990 that left her with a broken back and almost paralyzed from the waist down. With the help of doctors, they were able to put metal rods in her back and she’s since made a remarkable. Her experience with having a spine injury has led her to fund and find cures for paralyzation resulting from spine injuries. She consistently takes part in the Buoniconti Fund event that is a part of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. 

18. Eva Perón

Eva Peron/Instagram

Eva Perón was known as Argentina’s First Lady and has been more popularized by the Broadway musical Evita which chronicles her rise to fame. In 1950 Perón was diagnosed with advanced terminal cancer. She underwent a hysterectomy and chemotherapy but her cancer persisted and began deteriorating her body. It is also rumored that she underwent a lobotomy to help ease the pain but also as a political tool from those around her to calm her “erratic anger” she dealt with. Regardless, her cancer took a toll on her mental and physical health up until her death. 

19. Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt/Instagram

The legendary Mexican/German singer had a long and rewarding music career in many genres. But in 2011 she announced her retirement with the reveal that she has Parkinson’s Disease. Because of the disease, she is no longer able to sing a note. While it’s been tough not being able to sing out loud, she has been content in where her life is at now, citing she still sings in her head and keeps a sense of humor about everything. 

20. Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz/Instagram

The well-known half Cuban actress has been dealing with OCD for quite sometimes. She has for a long time been open and honest about her OCD and how it has affected her life. She has said it’s lead her to constantly cleaning doorknobs so hard that she has taken the paint off of them. She has been in therapy to help and is constantly working to manage her OCD.  


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Yalitza Aparicio Brought Her Mother To The Oscars And Other Incredible Things Latinas Did Last Night

Entertainment

Yalitza Aparicio Brought Her Mother To The Oscars And Other Incredible Things Latinas Did Last Night

The 91st Annual Academy Awards took place Sunday night and this year, it was a night full of glitz, glamour, and, most surprisingly, a lot of Spanish language! (Diego Luna, Javier Bardem, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guillermo del Toro all spoke Spanish during their speeches.)

Heading into the night, many viewed “Roma”, Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón’s artful and semi-autobiographic film, as the Best Picture front-runner and indeed, the film racked up three Oscars. But ultimately, “Roma” lost the Best Picture award to Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book.”

Although The Oscars still woefully under-represent Latinas in almost every category, Netflix’s critical darling, ‘Roma,” has provided a major spotlight for Latinx talent and stories, employing a largely Latinx cast and crew in its production.

Latinos Win Big

Sunday night was a big night for the Latinx community, with Spanish-language film “Roma” amassing three Oscar wins out of a total of 10 nominations. “Roma” wasn’t the only winner for the Latinx community though: Cuban-American director Phil Lord’s animated feature “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse” won for Best Animated Film. All in all, Latinos walked away with Oscars for Foreign Language Film, Cinematography, Directing, and Animated Film.

Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón, won the Best Director statue for “Roma”, marking the second year in a row that a Latino has won the award after Guillermo del Toro won last year. Cuarón also won the award for Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Language Film–marking the first time Mexico has landed the award out of a total of ten nominations.

Cuarón began his impassioned acceptance speech Best Director first by thanking “Roma”‘s leading ladies, Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira. He then went on to thank the Academy for “recognizing a film centering around an indigenous woman–a character who has historically been relegated to the background in cinema”.

In another win for the Latinx community, “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse” up-ended animation titan Disney to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. “Into the Spiderverse” revolves around the story of an Afro-Latino teenager moonlighting as Spiderman who discovers there are multiple versions of Spiderman in parallel universes.

Latino Director Phil Lord touched on the importance of representation in his acceptance speech, saying: “When we hear that a child turns to their parent and says, “[Spiderman] looks like me’ or ‘He speaks Spanish like us’, we feel like we already won”.

Latina Nominees Break New Ground

Most of the Latinx nominees for the night consisted of “Roma”‘s cast and crew, including Mexican actress Marina de Tavira for Best Supporting Actress, Yalitza Aparicio for Best Leading Actress, producer Gabriela Rodriguez for Best Picture, and set decorator Barbra Enriquez for Achievement in set design.

Yalitza Aparicio’s nomination, especially, was notable, as it was the first time in the Academy’s 90-year history that an Indigenous woman was nominated for Best Actress in a Lead Role.

Although these Latinas didn’t walk away with a gold statue, their presence alone was encouraging enough for the historically under-represented Latinx community.

“It’s possible to speak Spanish at the Oscars now”

The winners and nominees weren’t the only Latinos making a splash at this year’s Academy Awards, however. Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem veered into political territory when he presented the award for Best Foreign Language film.

In Spanish, he stated: “There are no borders or walls that can restrain ingenuity and talent,” which many interpreted as a dig aimed at President Trump.

Actor Diego Luna began his introduction of “Roma” by stating, in Spanish:
“Ya se puede hablar español en los Oscars. Ya nos abrieron la puerta y no nos vamos a ir”. Translation: “It’s possible to speak Spanish at the Oscars now. They finally opened the door for us, and we’re not going anywhere.”

Spanish-American Chef José Andrés joined Luna in introducing “Roma”and praised the film for shining a spotlight on “all the invisible people in our lives–immigrants and women–who move humanity forward”.

As usual, Latina Twitter users had a lot to say about Hollywood’s biggest night.

Never one to beat around the bush, political commentator Ana Navarro remarked on the refreshing amount of diversity displayed onstage this year.

Other Latinas gave Alfonso Cuarón props for acknowledging domestic workers, a class of women that Hollywood often ignores:

Nuanced stories centered on domestic workers are few and far between in Hollywood.

This Latina expressed excitement at the novelty of a film featuring an Afro-Latino characters winning Best Animated Film:

Just the phrase “#WeSeeYou” says all that needs to be said about the importance of representation.

Some Latinas expressed disappointment that “Roma” was relegated to the “Foreign Film” category when its story transcended such labels:


Some members of the Latinx community were frustrated that “Roma” wasn’t awarded the Best Picture award.

Many Latinas were here for Javier Bardem condemning border walls:

He was one of the few actors of the night who dared to make a political statement–and in Spanish, no less!

And of course, Yalitza made us all fall in love with her more when she brought her mom.

The Mexican actress didn’t take home an Oscar last night, but there’s no doubting that her presence in Hollywood has changed the future of its landscape. Last night Mexican-American fans of the newcomer gushed about Aparicio’s role in bucking the light-skinned Latina stereotype that has so long been favored in Spanish-language films and TV shows.

Also, her appearance at the Oscars couldn’t have been more defining. After spending awards season turning heads in a series of dresses by Alberta Ferretti, Miu Miu and Prada, Aparicio took to the red carpet a pale tulle custom Rodarte gown designed specifically for her, the actress stepped out onto the red carpet with her mother at her side.

And finally, Latinas everywhere expressed their joy at hearing Spanish proudly spoken at the Oscars

The importance of normalizing Spanish’s presence in day to day life cannot be overstated–especially during a time when many Latinas are afraid to speak Spanish in public.

As usual, the Oscars were a night to remember. We hope that the Academy continues to support actors, producers and filmmakers of Latinx descent into the future.


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20 Latina Athletes To Watch At Next Year’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

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20 Latina Athletes To Watch At Next Year’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Every two years, the best athletes in the world compete in the Winter or Summer Olympics. Just like the Olympics, the Paralympics is an international multi-sport event that also happens every two years. However, unlike the Olympics, athletes who compete in Paralympics do so with a range of disabilities. With limitations like vision impairment, intellectual impairment, loss of limb, impaired muscle movement and limited field of motion, these athletes prove that there’s no limit to who can be a champion.

The next games are nearly a year and a half away and will take place in Tokyo, Japan. Paralympians will come from all over the world to represent their countries in these games. Of course, from now until the games, these athletes will be doing some serious training to show out big time in Tokyo.

Besides contenders from Mexico and the United States, Central and South America have produced their fair share of medalists. From archery and track and field to basketball and fencing, Latina Paralympians represent their countries with pride.

Though the next games don’t take place until 2020, it’s never too early to start hyping up these amazing Latina Paralympians.

1. Natalie Bieule

Twitter / @NataB12

Florida mom of two, Bieule lost her left leg because of a car accident at the age of 18. A competitive dancer at the time, the Latina didn’t allow the loss to stop her from competing. With the help of her prosthetic, Bieule began her career as a discus thrower soon after her accident. After winning silver and gold in the 2014 and 2015 US Paralympics Track and Field National Championships, Bieule went on to compete in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

2. Martha Chavez

Joe Kusumoto Photography

A proud veteran of the United States Army, this Mexican born athlete suffered from polio as a small girl. Though she needed leg braces in childhood, Chavez recovered. However, she suffered an injury while in the military and it was made worse by her previous illness. Chavez’s leg weakness makes her dependent on her wheelchair but that hasn’t stopped her from putting her marksmanship skills to good use. The Latina competes in archery using her compound bow and is a two-time silver medalist.

3. Patty Cisneros

YouTube / Cordillera Digital

Three-time Paralympic athlete, Cisneros has been a big name in wheelchair basketball for nearly 20 years. Cisneros was rendered paralyzed in a car crash during her freshman year of college. In 2018, the Latina led the US Paralympics Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team to its second gold medal in the games. The one time ESPY nominee for Best Female Athlete with a Disability, Cisneros now coaches the University of Illinois’ Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team.

4. Andrea DeMello

Earl Wilson / The New York Times

In 1980, DeMello suffered a stroke that rendered her right side completely paralyzed. However, her sport of wheelchair fencing has actually helped in her recovery. An avid marathon runner, the fencer immigrated to the US from Brazil and joined the US Paralympic team. DeMello has participated in four Paralympic games and still travels the world competing in fencing competitions.

5. Christella Garcia

JudoInside.com

Born blind, Garcia has studied Judo since childhood. She started competitively training for the 2012 London Paralympic games in 2007 and hasn’t stopped since. The two-time Paralympian earned bronze in her sport during the 2016 Rio games. When she isn’t competing, Garcia works with local and national charities.

6. Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt

TeamUSA.org

Originally from Bogota, Mosquera-Schmidt is a one-time Paralympic athlete competing in track and field. As a blind woman, she is the American record holder for T11 women in the 1500, 3000, and 5000 meter and marathon distances. She’s also the world champion in Paratriathlon in the Sprint and Olympic distances. When she isn’t competing, Mosquera-Schmidt works as a motivational speaker.

7. Ilena Rodriguez

Tom Stormme / Tribune

Rodriguez grew up in Cuba, swimming in the waters off of Matanzas. When she was 13 she developed a rare spinal condition that rendered her unable to walk. However, Rodriguez learned that she could still swim and went on to competitively train. In 2008, the swimmer set the US record for the 200m breaststroke. The Latina later competed in the 2012 London games.

8. Terezinha Guilhermina

Emilio Morenatti / AP Photo

Representing her home country of Brazil, Guilhermina is one of the best sprinters in the Paralympics. The 39 year old runner holds the world records for 100m and 400m the T11 category — a classification for the most visually impaired athletes. She made her debut at the 2004 Athens games, winning the bronze. In the course of her training, Guilhermina has also trained with and ran alongside Olympian Usain Bolt.

9. Shirlene Coelho

Twitter / @AngelaMilanese

Track and field champion Coelho is a big deal in the Paralympic games. A three-time Paralympian, she competes in all three throwing events — the shot put, javelin, and discus.  The Brazilian native has earned two gold medals and two silver medals in her sports. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy that impairs her balance, Coelho set a new world record in her Javelin class during the 2018 Beijing games.

10. Yunidis Castillo

Twitter / @_yazminsita

A Paralympian track and field star, Castillo has brought several medals home for Cuba. Competing in track and long jump, the Cubana lost her arm at the age of 10 in a car accident. That obviously hasn’t slowed her down a bit. Castillo earned five gold medals combined in the 2008 Beijing games and the 2012 London games. She also won silver during her appearance at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

11. Amalia Pérez

Paralympic.org

A five-time Paralympic champion, the Mexicana is the definition of fuerte. Dependant on a wheelchair due to impaired muscle strength, Pérez is one of Mexico’s best known powerlifters. She’s won three gold medals in the Beijing, London, and Rio games and two silver in Sydney and Athens. Pérez is also the only powerlifter in the world to hold championships in three different divisions.

12. Omara Durand

Instagram / oncubanews

A visually impaired Cubana, Durand is a gold-worthy sprinter. The two-time Paralympian won an combined total of five gold medals in the Rio and London games. During her win in Rio, the Latina set a new world record in the 100m T13 event. All of these accomplishments earned her the title of Best Female Athlete at the 2016 Paralympic Awards.

13. Aline Rocha

Twitter / @flaviodilascio

When Rocha competed in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter games, she became the first Brazilian to ever join the Winter games. In 2006, a car crash resulted in paraplegia. She found the sport of cross country skiing after her injury. In 2018, she was named Best Female Para Cross-country Skier of the year by the Brazilian Confederation of Snow Sports. Rocha may have impressed the world with her fourth place preformance in Pyeongchang but she eager to show her growth at the 2022 Beijing games.

14. Yazmith Bataz

Twitter / @markopticmx

Three time Paralympian Bataz has been representing her home of Mexico since the 2004 Athens games. Due to the amputation of her legs, the Mexicana competes in track events with a wheelchair. In 2007, Bataz set a new Pan-American record in the 100m T54. In 2014, the champion received the Medal of Merit for a Person with Disabilities from the government of Baja California Sur — her home state.

15. Thiare Casarez

Wikipedia.com

A sprint and mid-distance runner, Casarez competes for her home country of Mexico. In 2013, she represented Mexico in the IPC Athletics World champions. There, the runner earned silver in both the 200m and 400m events. Casarez is training for the next Paralympics and hopes to represent Mexico again in 2020.

16. María de los Ángeles Ortiz

Alchetron.com

A three-time Paralympian, de los Angeles Ortiz has represented Mexico proudly in her sport of shot put. In 2004, she had to have a leg amputated after a car accident so she competes in a wheelchair. In her first appearance at the games, the Mexicana won a silver medal. Later, in the 2012 and 2016 games, she won a gold medal in both London and Rio. In 2011, de los Angeles Ortiz received Mexico’s National Sports Award.

17. Yanina Martinez

Paralympic.org

Martinez is a Paralympian from Argentina who represented her country in the 2016 games. Born with cerebral palsy, the runner experiences coordination issues. During Rio’s Paralympic events, Martinez earned gold on the women’s 100m dash. That year, she also won the Silver Olimpia Award for Best Para Athlete.

18. Maritza Arango Buitrago

Alchetron.com

Colombian racer Buitrago competes in the middle distance events in track and fields. In 2003, a rare degenerative eye disorder began to take her eyesight which led her into a deep depression. She decided to focus on athletics to get past the negativity she felt about her mental illness and blindness. She went on to represent her county in Rio where she would go on to win two bronze medals.

19. Martha Hernández

Twitter / @JulianPericoJr

Track and field star Hernádez has a visual impairment that renders her almost completely blind. Still, that hasn’t limited her success. In the 2015, she won silver in the shot put during the Parapan American Games. Though she still runs, she currently works at the Columbian Federation of Athletes with Cerebral Palsy.

20. Yeny Vergas

Disfusión

Though only training for three years before the event, Vargas is a natural born runner. The Peruvian lost her arm due to an accidental electrocution at 5 years-old. The now 21 years-old Paralympian represented Peru in the 2016 Rio game. Though her times didn’t qualify, her tenacity and drive to keep going is definitely an inspiration.

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