Jessica Cox

Jessica is recognized internationally as an inspirational keynote speaker. Born without arms, Jessica Cox could have succumbed to the low expectations that ushered her into this world. In spite of them all, she earned two black belts in Taekwondo, graduated from college, and learned to swim, drive a car, fly an airplane, surf, scuba dive, and live independently using her feet in ways others who take their hands for granted can only imagine. She holds the title of the first person without arms to get a black belt in the American Taekwondo Association and the Guiness World Record for the first pilot to fly with her feet.

However, Jessica’s greatest triumph in life stands far above any physical feat. It is her unrepentant regard for herself as a whole person, her high degree of self-acceptance that gives her freedom and power to insist that society accept her, too, just as she is.

Accolades

  • Guinness World Record: The First Armless Person in the World Ever to Have Obtained a Pilot’s License, 2011
  • AOPA LIVE Pilots Choice Award 2010: Most Watched Female Aviator
  • Filipino Women’s Network: 100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the U.S., 2009
  • Published in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, 2009
  • The Filipino American Journal Award of Excellence, Outstanding Filipino Award, 2008

TOPICS

When Jessica first walks on stage, the audience has no idea that she doesn’t have arms. Carefully hidden underneath a jacket, she has on her prosthetic arms. Minutes into the introduction, she removes them and begins her speech rightfully titled:

Disarming the Impossible! Corporate Keynote:
Turning “Impossible” into “Accomplishment”
What limits people in your group from attaining their highest potential? How can they push limitations aside?
Jessica believes that by combining creativity, persistence, and fearlessness, nothing is impossible. In her presentation, she digs deep into her experiences living armless in a two-handed world. She shows how these three qualities helped her achieve the seemingly impossible.
Jessica’s elements stem from answering such questions as:

  • Are you letting your fears stand in the way of your opportunities?
  • Is it easier to come up with an excuse than a creative solution to a challenge?
  • What handicaps are you-and others-creating that you don’t need?
  • How soon should you give up when confronted with a difficult challenge?

Get Ready to Turn your “I can’t” into “I can!” and “I will!” Youth Keynote: Embracing Differences
Every person on this earth is “different” in one way or another and in one form or another has endured pressure to conform under the threat of rejection and isolation. Students experience the constant pressure to “fit in.” Jessica shares the struggle of masking her difference growing up in a two-handed world but then realizing the importance of being true to who we are as individuals. In order to be a good leader, Jessica believes it is critical to stand up for who it is we are, stand out every opportunity we have, and to stand proud of our differences!

Thinking Outside the Shoe
As a person who has never viewed herself as a victim of her condition, Jessica shares in her speeches humerous stories of struggle and success living in a “two-handed” world.  She provides critical insight on how to best approach a challenge, redefining the concept of innovative thinking.  She helps people reconnect with their own inner strengths and aptitudes.  Jessica believes in combining creativity, desire, persistence and fearlessness; with them, nothing is impossible.  In her presentation, she will dig deep into her excperiences living armless in a two-handed world and share how these four elements helped her achieve the seemingly impossible.

Jessica’s points stem from answering such questions as:

  • Why is it more important to “fit in” than to stand out and be different?
  • Do students act based on what everyone else is doing?
  • Who is responsible for standing up for who we are as individuals?
  • Why are we so worried about what everyone else thinks?

Full Biography

Jessica Cox was born without arms. The doctors do not know why she was born “differently-abed.” But she does. Jessica has made achievements with her feet that most people only dream of. Now she shares her story with people around the world.

Born in 1983 in Sierra Vista, Arizona, Jessica has learned to live her life with her feet. There were many questions at the time about whether Jessica would be able to live a “normal” life. However, Jessica’s father has said he never shed a tear about her birth condition. He had full confidence in her potential. With the support of her parents and family, Jessica became confident in herself as an adult and continued to explore the world with her feet.

As a child, Jessica studied dance in her home town. When the first performance arrived, she asked to be put in the back row. Her dance teacher told her there was no back row. Tentatively she took the stage with the other students and performed her routine. When she finished, the applause from the audience gave her encouragement and the confidence to continue dancing for 14 years.

Jessica’s parents eventually met a Taekwondo instructor named Jim Cunningham. His response when told of her birth condition was that she would be more than physically able and that only her attitude could hold her back. At the age of 14, Jessica earned her first Black Belt in the International Taekwondo Federation.

After graduating from high school, Jessica attended the University of Arizona where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. When talking about her degree, she frequently explains that psychology credits the way people think has a greater impact on their lives than a physical limitation.

During college, Jessica found a club of the American Taekwondo Association and resumed training in the sport. Even though Jessica already had one black belt in a different style, she had to relearn all of the color belt material. The instructors created a curriculum that would be accessible to any future arm less students. Jessica then became the first arm less person to earn a black belt in the ATA.
Jessica’s most famous accomplishment was learning how to fly. It took three states, four airplanes, two flight instructors and a discouraging year to find the right aircraft: a 1946 415C Ercoupe Airplane. She received the Guinness World Record for being the first person certified to fly an airplane with only their feet.

Jessica now works as a motivational speaker. She travels the world sharing her story and encouraging people to be creative and innovative with the mantra “Think outside the shoe.

Dick Rutan

Dick Rutan

As a Tactical Air Command fighter pilot during most of his two decades in the Air Force, Dick Rutan flew 325 combat missions in Vietnam, 105 of them as a member of a high-risk classified operation commonly known as the “MISTY’s.” While on his last strike reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam in September of 1968, his aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire, and he was forced to eject from his burning F-100. Rutan evaded enemy capture and was later rescued by the Air Force’s “Jolly Green Giant” helicopter team. After retirement, Dick and his brother Burt formed Rutan Aircraft Factory, where Dick flew the test flight development programs of many military and civilian experimental aircraft and set numerous world speed and distance records. In the early 80s, he founded Voyager Aircraft, Inc. and on the morning of December 14, 1986, Voyager took off, landing nine days, three minutes and forty four seconds later at Edwards Air Force Base in California, successfully completing the six-year quest. The Voyager is now proudly suspended in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s “Milestones of Flight” gallery in Washington, D.C. Dick Rutan is also proud to be a governing member of the emerging space tourism industry. He formed an enterprise called Voyager Aerospace Corporation and has several projects emerging with this company – two of them are unique aircraft. Since Voyager’s world flight, Dick Rutan has been traveling the world, speaking to audiences and sharing his tales of the magnificent Voyager project and of his other adventures. The Voyager story is one of tremendous courage, vision and adventure and is often referred to as “aviation’s last first.” Read more

Amy Purdy

Amy Purdy has been through hardships that most of us will never face — or can even fathom. But what makes her story so incredible is not that fact that she lived a “normal” childhood and spent her high school years as a passionate artist and snowboarder then traumatically lost both her legs at age 19, but how she has persevered, taking implausible challenges and rising above them.

Today, Amy is an athlete; currently the top ranked adaptive female snowboarder in the world, she’s a spokesperson, inspirational speaker, model, advocate and spokesperson for Element Skateboards amongst other companies. Amy also spends a good amount of time helping others specifically those with physical challenges get involved with snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding and other action sports through the organization she co-founded Adaptive Action Sports. Challenging herself while making a positive impact on the world is a true testament to Amy’s spirit.

• Amy had a typical childhood until losing her legs at 19 as a result of Meningitis, which has led to an adulthood of extraordinary accomplishments.
• Amy is the top ranked adaptive snowboarder in the U.S., a three-time World Cup Para-Snowboard winner, and the 2014 Paralympic Bronze Medalist.
• Amy is the co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit organization which helps disabled youth, young adults and wounded veterans get involved with action sports. AAS was instrumental in getting adaptive snowboarding added to the 2014 Paralympic Games.
• Three days after winning a bronze medal at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics Amy became breakout star of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars!
• In 2010 Amy was featured in CNN’s series “Breakthrough Woman”
• Amy is an accomplished model, and has worked on features with both Madonna and Nikki Sixx.
• Not only is Amy proud to be sponsored by P&G, she is also the voice talent of their global advertising campaign, “Tough Love.”
• Amy is highly experienced professional speaker, including a featured presenter at TEDx Orange Coast 2011. That presentation has been viewed over 1.4 million times

Full Biography

After going through this life-altering experience, Amy challenged herself to move on with her life and attain goals that even those who have both legs struggle to achieve. Just three months after her kidney transplant, Amy entered the USASA National Snowboarding Championship where she won medals in three events. Today, she is one of the top ranked adaptive snowboarders in the world, has won multiple World Cup medals and appears poised to be on the podium at the upcoming 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. She is the only double leg amputee competing at the world class level.

Amy’s creativity, positive outlook and her never give up attitude have opened doors to many other opportunities including being featured in a Madonna music video, a lead actress role in an award winning independent film and multiple creative modeling projects including a photo shoot with musician and artist Nikki Sixx where her legs were custom made from steel to look like ice picks.

Amy has evolved into a powerful inspirational and motivational speaker who has literally been seen by millions of people and invited to share her story to audiences around the world.

Amy’s story and images have been featured in numerous national and international publications, and in 2012 she and her longtime boyfriend, Daniel Gale, raced around the world on The Amazing Race.

Fred Sarkari

Fred Sakari

“Expert on Leadership, Sales, Branding, Communication, Customer Service & Human Behaviour” Fred Sarkari is president of a unique sales and development company, that seeks to empower organizations to achieve their visions, goals and dreams. Fred provides management services to a broad range of organizations from start ups to some of the world’s largest organizations. Fred’s unique approach combines vision with practical application – his customized keynotes provide a compelling and practical message to audiences regardless of size and translates through to the programs he creates. Read more