Terry Trecartin slammed his bicycle into a car riding down Suck Creek Mountain and lost the use of his legs.
He now scuba dives, rock climbs and paddles a kayak.
Chuck Ayars went to a vet center for counseling after his Iraq war trauma.
He now counsels fellow combat veterans.
Joan Guy was blinded shortly after birth by improper incubator oxygen levels.
She starts a graduate program in January, training to help rehabilitate others with disabilities.
The three were among the speakers Monday at a meeting of the Chattanooga Mayor's Council for Disability Concerns. The speakers came to the meeting at Eastgate Town Center by invitation to mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Allison Messier, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga student representative, said having those with disabilities share their stories helps listeners see the disabled differently, especially when the stories illustrate how people overcome difficulties.
"It's more personable, we can open up to each other," she said.
Messier knows from personal experience; she's a little person.
One thing she said she'd like to see is groups of employers hear from the disabled.
Though the Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against the disabled, Messier said much of the discrimination can be unseen.
Some of the two dozen people present at Monday's meeting asked the speakers how they deal with discrimination when applying for work.
Nathan Dale was fired for drug and alcohol abuse on the job, his way of self-medicating his combat trauma from serving in Iraq.
He said he may not list that he was a combat veteran on a job application because some employers will automatically stigmatize him, assuming he's a "crazy vet."
Trecartin said he doesn't write that he's in a wheelchair on his resume.
"When I come in for an interview, we'll talk about it," he said.
Denise Carlson fought mental illness for 40 years and now finds housing for those with similar challenges.
She said many in the general public are not educated on disabilities, especially mental health concerns.
"You have to see us, we're just people like anybody else," she said.