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What Zach Anner Can Teach the World

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

An image of Zach Anner and the logo for his new show If you don’t know who Zach Anner is yet, you probably will soon. Anner is a creative, funny, 26-year-old filmmaker with cerebral palsy who recently won an online video contest—receiving 9 million votes—to have his own TV show on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network). The “Rollin’ Around the World with Zach Anner” show is set to air at 9pm every Friday starting at some point this summer.

Why is Zach Anner so unique?

Because he is hosting his new travel show “for people who never thought they could travel” from his wheelchair, and it’s intended to inspire an adventure in anyone. And when things go wrong—as things often do on adventures—he’ll inspire viewers to adapt to misadventures and move forward. But travelling with a sense of humor is a must and is his shtick.

For example, in his audition video for the OWN show, Anner introduces himself explaining he has cerebral palsy, which he then claims is “the sexiest of all the palsies.” The video also includes a parody of a failed TV show on yoga. “This isn’t yoga,” he tells the camera while lying on his back on the floor. “I’m just putting on pants.”

In one other video posted on his web site, he’s visiting Niagara Falls, which he explains is close to his childhood home of Buffalo, New York, but decides to change up the travel talk and simply chase a seagull from his motorized wheelchair.

Disability is Secondary

During the OWN competition, Winfrey expressed concern that Anner might not be able to keep up with the “grueling” demands of a having his own television show. But after spending time with him, she said she realized that “the wheelchair doesn’t come first.”

In fact, his funny approach puts the focus on what he’s saying and doing—and not that it’s being done and said from a wheelchair. He successfully pokes fun at himself but doesn’t degrade himself or his disability, putting viewers at ease.

By using humor so effectively, he convinced legions of fans to vote for him to win the competition. As a result, he has become a role model for people with disabilities and without. No doubt when the show airs, scores of people with disabilities will be inspired to brave new adventures.

Through the show, he has said, it’s his hope is that people will think he’s funny, he’s good at his job and his disability will eventually be invisible.

Wouldn’t that be great to set the stage for all people with disabilities?

For more information on Zach Anner, visit his web site: http://therealzachanner.com/