For over 40 years, motivational speaker Paul Wichansky has been promoting a message of positivity and inspiration.
Born with cerebral palsy, the lifelong resident of Freehold Township, New Jersey said his public speaking career began at the age of 10 when his mother encouraged him to speak in front of students at her school.
“My mom noticed I needed just a little more confidence, so she invited me to go to her school with her,” Wichansky said. “I told her I didn’t want to [speak in front of the students]. They don’t know me, I’m going to get teased more than I do in my own school. But my mom encouraged me. She said share your hobbies, share your interests and that started my public speaking career.”
In recognition of his work, Wichansky was a finalist in the 2021 Oticon Focus on People Awards in the advocacy category, ultimately placing third.
Oticon, a hearing technology manufacturer, created the awards program in 1997 to celebrate hearing-impaired students, adults and advocacy volunteers who demonstrate through accomplishments that hearing loss does not affect the ability to make a positive difference, according to a company press release. The company credits Wichansky with inspiring over one million individuals through his work.
Wichansky’s nomination was submitted by Dr. Robert DiSogra, who has been his audiologist for nearly 45 years and is considered as a second father.
“Paul’s advocacy work was just stellar,” DiSogra said. “I said I’m going to nominate him. I’m not going to tell him. I’m going to nominate him. And he was one of the finalists on the national level.”
Ever since his first public speaking appearance, Wichansky continues to share his hobbies and interests to inspire others at elementary and high schools, colleges and universities, corporations and organizations, and more.
“Some of my hobbies include jumping out of a plane, like skydiving, and scuba-diving,” he said. “I met Billy Joel, I met Elton John. And Elton John hugged me and my sister. Those are dreams come true.”
As the world still contends with the COVID-19 pandemic, Wichansky finds it more important than ever to be positive.
“I don’t want the kids today to feel different and mock people that are different from them,” he said. “The social isolation the last two years caused teens and kids to feel frustrated and depressed and isolated. We have all opportunities available to us. The world is so rich in diversity and opportunities. And we must seize them to seize the day.”
More information on Wichansky can be found on his website JustTheWayYouAre.com.