Published July 21, 2014

Bonner Paddock was filling out a job application with the Anaheim Ducks. The basics were easy: Age, education, employment history. But he paused at “personal history” before finally doing something he’d never done before. He wrote on the application that he had a disability, cerebral palsy.

“It was the first time I ever wrote on an application that I had cerebral palsy,” he tells me as we sat together recently. “That’s how afraid I was. I started working at McDonald’s at 14. From that first job, I was terrified to write ‘cerebral palsy’ on my application. I thought everyone was going to judge me and not hire me.”

The Ducks would only judge whether Bonner had the right background for their corporate sales opening, and he was hired in 2005 in an awakening that changed his life. Since then, he has climbed one of the world’s greatest mountains, completed an Ironman Triathlon, created a foundation and raised more than $1 million for children with disabilities. But before he could do any of that, before he could find ways to use what he now calls his gift to make a difference, he had to find a way to accept himself, just the way he is.

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