This Article is About
disabled people
aspiring entrepreneur
local community college
life doctors
spinal cord injury
brother eric
head above water
little brother
learning style
car accident
Disabled People Can Ride Bikes Too
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Disabled People Can Ride Bikes Too

When my little brother, Eric, was 19, he was involved in a car accident and was seriously hurt. A spinal cord injury meant that this active teen-aged athlete would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Doctors told him that he was essentially a vegetable, would have to be tied in his chair, and be fed and everything would have to be done for him.

Maybe this runs in the family, but he was always a stubborn kid anyway, so he told his doctors he wouldn't accept their version of his life. He worked very hard to learn how to feed himself, drink, write, and use a computer. He also learned how to drive a specialty equipped vehicle and got himself a van. He enrolled in the local Community College and started taking classes toward a psychologist degree.

When it appeared my brother was going to have to be institutionalized because no one really wanted to take care of him, I got the job as primary caregiver by default. Eric was always a lot of fun and the life of every party, even after his accident, so we just started doing everything together.

Up until that time, I was an aspiring entrepreneur. I was keeping my head above water but wasn't what I would call successful. I have a background in computers and had a business that helped people set up networks and accounting systems.

Everyone has a different learning style: the major styles are, auditory - if you hear it, you get it; visual - if you see it, you get it, tactile - if you do it or touch it, you get it. I happen to be a tactile learner, which means once I do it, I will get it. Eric could read something - and get it.

Technology, as always, goes through major changes all the time. New software, new equipment, new ways of communicating is the norm for this field. I was struggling to learn all the new techniques and systems, so I asked my disabled brother if he could help me with my business.

The plan was, he would read all the magazines and books about the changes in computers, then he would teach me how to do it. From that point on I could learn it using my learning style, and then set up the new systems and teach my customers how to use them.

I AM A SELFISH JERK

Before you really think badly of me when you start to read this paragraph please finish it.

Because Eric was receiving disability payments, he could not earn any money. This was great because I didn't have much money to pay him anyway. With the synergy we created (together, we were greater than the sum of our individual efforts), the business started to take off and do well.

We worked for a year together and all the money was mine. (A real jerk, right?) Well, after a year and growth and profits just seemed to be in the future for us, I did the right thing and signed over half of the company to him. So, really I am a relatively decent guy, after all.

OUR BUSINESS WAS SUCCESSFUL

We worked like dogs but made our business grow and become successful. It grew to the point where we hired some good people and this gave us more time to do fun things.

We started doing all kinds of fun things, like go to the lake, go skiing, hiking, snow-skiing, hot air ballooning, and pretty much anything we dared to do. All of our friends thought we were risking his health and safety by doing what most people would consider normal things.

We found the Katy Trail, an old railroad line that crossed the state of Missouri. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, or MKT became unprofitable and ceased operations in the 1980's. The MKT was known as the Katy, and so when the railroad donated the old rail lines to build bicycle trails, this gave people an opportunity to have a great place to hike and ride bikes.

The Katy generally follows the path of the Missouri River, and there aren't very many hills on this trail. The Katy is one of the longest bike trails in the United States. It starts near the western part of the state and meanders its way to St. Louis on the east side.

WE BOUGHT A BICYCLE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Eric did some research and found they make a bicycle for people with disabilities can ride. Its called a hand cycle and you pedal and steer with your hands. The one he selected was from Invacare and was the Top Flight Exelerator model.

The photo shows Eric and my son, Josh riding his hand cycle at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

We decided to ride the Katy Trail across the 237 miles across Missouri and began our journey. We did it a little at a time. Eric was able to ride a portion of the trail until his health declined and he could no longer pedal his bike.

We have found there are a lot of active people who have disabilities. These people play basketball, rugby, they ski, and race wheelchairs and bicycles and more.

If you've never been close to someone with a disability, you'll find they are no different than the rest of us. If they are like my brother, they actually do more than many able-bodied people. People with disabilities don't like the word 'handicapped'. They are not handicapped, stairs are a handicap to a person who has trouble walking up them, but the person is not handicapped.

So many people with disabilities are stuck in their homes and never get out. They need to live life, they need exercise, they need to get away from the TV or the computer.

Get with someone you know, or volunteer with a local disability support group and help someone get out into nature. It may well be the most valuable thing you can do with your time.


Street Talk

  

I know this looks like a lot of work, but it really is 2 months of writing. I changed my URL on my website so these articles have just reflected the changes in links. As always, thanks for your support. Kali

Reply
  about 6 years ago
Kymee  

Looks like you have been very busy writing...I know all what you write is great and you will get many to visit you and your store. I know your brother must be very proud. Keep up the awesome work. I feel how comfortable in this you are....That is what makes a great writer, right??? Have a great one Kymee

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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