Although nearly both blind and deaf, Rebecca Alexander is an inspiration to us all. She is an author, psychotherapist, group fitness instructor, disability rights advocate, and extreme athlete.
A patient of UCSF ophthalmologist, Jacque Duncan, MD, Rebecca was born with Usher syndrome type 3A, a rare genetic disorder which has caused progressive loss of both her sight and hearing since she was a teenager. Despite these unfathomable challenges, Rebecca maintains her drive for life, rising above and beyond every challenge she faces.
In 1996, young Rebecca was selected to be an Olympic torchbearer in the nationwide relay prior to the Atlanta Games because of her ability to face adversity with grace and courage. Since then, her extraordinary accomplishments have included summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro, participating in the 600-mile San Francisco to Los Angeles AIDS Lifecycle ride, swimming from Alcatraz to shore in the San Francisco Bay for That Man May See’s Swim for Sight, skydiving, bungee jumping, and regularly competing in events for extreme athletes.
Sharing her story to help others face their own challenges, Rebecca presented for TEDx Cape May What’s the Story? She has been widely featured on such shows as The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Morning Joe, The Dr. Oz Show, ABC News, NBC News, and PBS Radio. She has also been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The New York Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, Fitness, Shape, Women’s Health, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan.
Her book, Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found, tells the 42-year-old author’s story of courage and motivation from starting to lose sight and hearing as a child, to a shattering fall from a window at 18, to her triumph over these physical, psychological, and philosophical obstacles. Her inspiring story is now the subject of a forthcoming Netflix feature film from Annapurna Pictures, produced by John Krasinski and David O. Russell.
Over the years, Rebecca has won a number of awards, including a Helen Keller Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind, the Foundation Fighting Blindness Hope and Spirit Award, and the Future Visions Foundation’s Luminary Award to name a few.