I get really discouraged whenever I see a person that is faking a handicap. Discouraged is a mild term, but I don't want to use stronger language here. And when I say faking, I don't mean that I just suspect they are faking, I mean that I actually see positive proof.
On several occasions, in several different cities, I have witnessed a "shift change". I have watched as a person sitting in a wheelchair, holding a disabled veteran sign is relieved by another person, who takes the sign, and the field jacket before he assumes the place in the wheelchair.
A friend on the police force in Las Vegas told me that they are powerless to do anything because it is not against the law to ask for money, and we always have the choice to say no.
Regardless, after witnessing something like that, it is harder to accept who is real and who is not. The media, especially Holywood, can distort the reality and therefore affect the attitude that we have towards those people who are in wheelchairs.
Movies, at least the older ones, tend to portray the person in a wheelchair as either a miserable, troubled person, frustrated and mean like Mr. Potter, in Its a Wonderful Life, to a struggling veteran, like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump.
We can feel sorry for their characters, like Jimmy Stewart in The Rear Window, or we can cheer them on, like we did for Dectective Ironsides, played by Raymond Burr.
At the end of the days shooting, these characters can climb out of their chairs and head for home, free to carry on as usual.
Real life characters on the other hand faced, or face, hardships each day and many overcame those obstacles.
FDR, Christopher Reeve, Stephen Hawking, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Teddy Pendergrass proved to the world that they could go on. They did not need a script, nor did they need special effects.
For these people and the millions that can't be listed here, their lives are for real.