Wesley Hamilton, the founder of The Disabled but not Really Foundation. An award-winning adaptive athlete and motivational speaker, this philanthropist is on a mission and won’t let anything stop him. Hamilton wants those with disabilities to feel equally as empowered as he has become. Learn more about this rising star!
— Yitzi Weiner (thrive global)


Born and raised on KCMO’s eastside, it was hard for a young African American male to find opportunity outside of the streets. I got myself into some pretty bad situations, mainly to fit in and impress others. By the time I was 16, I was on my own because I was too much for my mother to handle. My actions put me on the streets. Homeless and hardheaded, I continued making bad decisions.

I began to make a change after I found out I was going to be a father. I was only 21. But then and there I knew that I wanted to set the best example for my kid. My daughter, Nevaeh, was born September 9, 2009 when I was 22. This new responsibility demanded that I work a full-time job and be very independent. Around the time Nevaeh turned two, I fought for sole custody. Thankfully the courts granted it.

Then came January 14, 2012 – another life-changing day. At 24, I was shot multiple times by someone I’d never even met. I spent three weeks in the ICU and woke up paralyzed from the waist down with a spinal cord injury. It was a new life, and restricted by wheelchair. Extra challenging with my two-year-old Nevaeh. I weighed 230 pounds, suffered from depression, and had medical complications from the weight. Knowing I had to set an example for my daughter, I worked hard and found a solution.

Fitness and nutrition were a way to not only lose weight but to feel happier and healthier. In the first year of this new routine, I lost 100 pounds and left the dark cloud of depression. I realized the importance of fitness, especially for those who have disabilities. So I started The Disabled but Not Really Foundation. It’s a non-profit that encourages people with disabilities to get some sort of exercise regardless of their ability. There is a lot of untapped potential out there. Lookout when everyone finds it!  

I am now working on getting my personal trainer certification and becoming an adaptive and able-body CrossFit trainer. I enjoy giving back to my community by speaking to students and mentoring others with various disabilities, especially those with spinal cord injury.

Nevaeh is my heart and soul, motivating me to be the best version of myself that I can be. I strive to stay humble in my success and set a good example. Positive attitudes go a long way when you’re battling the tough stuff. And fitness and nutrition play an important role in building and maintaining positivity. One of my main goals in life is to encourage others to believe in themselves and achieve their own greatness.