Lily Brasch, 23, role model and activist for those with disabilities


Lily Brasch is an activist who describes her mission as “an effort to disable the word ‘disabled.'” Earlier this year, the 23-year-old walked in New York Fashion Week as the first model with muscular dystrophy to do so unassisted. She has also has launched a foundation, Born to Prove, highlighting stories like hers of people overcoming barriers; climbed Camelback Mountain and competed in a muscle building competition. “There is a lack of representation in the Jewish community, at least in my Orthodox community, of people with disabilities actually achieving things,” she tells us. Brasch lives on the Upper West Side.

For the full list of this year’s “36 to Watch” — which honors leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers who are making a difference in New York’s Jewish community — click here.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy and my parents were told I would never walk. Accompanying the diagnosis, I was also told I would never be able to put on muscle or gain strength. I’ve truly defied all the odds! I have trained for and summited mountains and competed in National Muscle Building competitions. I tackle these arduous feats to help others see their own strength and spread the message that with the right attitude, they can break through their own barriers.

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How does your Jewish identity or experience influence your work?

My Jewish identity is at the heart and center of everything that I do. People evolve and change, myself included, but honoring my Jewish faith is something that has never waved or changed. It’s at the center of everything I do.

How can people follow you online?

Instagram @lilybrasch

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