WASHINGTON, D.C. – Typhoon victims in the Philippines, particularly those who lost arms or legs as a result of their injuries, should draw strength and inspiration from armless Filipino-American pilot and motivational speaker Jessica Cox.
“Jessica has risen from adversity and can definitely inspire our people, especially those who are experiencing adversity as a result of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Central Philippines,” said Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. after Cox offered to help typhoon victims during a recent visit to the Philippine Embassy.
Ambassador Cuisia said typhoon victims, especially those who had to undergo amputations, should look up to Cox, who holds the Guinness World Record for being the first armless person in aviation history to earn a pilot’s certificate.
“Although she was born without arms, Jessica never allowed her condition to limit her – she attained a college degree in Psychology, earned a black belt in taekwondo and learned to drive with her feet, play the piano with her toes and fly an airplane,” he said.
The Arizona-based Cox, who was in Washington to attend a Senate committee hearing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, has delivered numerous inspirational speeches around the world and is an advocate for rights of persons with disabilities.
Cox’s mother is also from Guiuan, Eastern Samar, where Typhoon Haiyan first made landfall on 8 November. One of her grandaunts was among the more than 5,000 people who lost their lives during the typhoon that also displaced some other family members. Cox said she last saw her relatives there when she and her husband, Patrick, visited in February.
“We visited Samar before and it was gorgeous,” said Cox, showing the Ambassador a photo she and her husband took on their last trip to the Philippines. She believes her fellow Filipinos can transcend challenges brought about by Typhoon Haiyan.
“Sending our condolences for all the victims which include some of my own family. I know the same resilience and strength which I am fortunate to have from my Filipino roots will help get them through the challenges that lie ahead,” Cox wrote in the Book of Condolences for those who lost their lives in Typhoon Haiyan.
Cox has been working with Handicap International, a nongovernment organization that supports people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, which has been present in the Philippines since 1985. The organization, which was a co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its successful campaign to ban antipersonnel mines, has been doing relief work in typhoon-affected areas.
Since Typhoon Haiyan, the organization has provided thousands of families with emergency kits and mobility aids. It has also set up a logistics platform to transport and distribute humanitarian aid, particularly to isolated regions, according to Mica Bevington, Director of Marketing and Communications of Handicap International.
Cox and Handicap International are mobilizing support for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan through an evening reception to be held on Tuesday, 3 December at the Dupont Room of Living Social on 918 F Street NW here in Washington. Cox will be delivering a speech at the event. ###