Thursday, November 5, 2009

Atomic Zombies inform and inspire

First of all, I want to thank Brad and Kat for such an incredible site, ditto to all the builders who also share their building tips and different web sites to buy the this and thats. Everyone here is very friendly and open when it comes to sharing knowledge.

For me, it is more than just an informational site.

When I was 9 months old, I had contracted the polio virus, from the waist down was nearly all affected, all of my left leg and about 90% of my right. Most of my youth was spent in and out of hospitals, eventually, as I got older, I became strong enough to get around mostly unaided and live a pretty normal life. One of the positive side effects was all the use of crutches, using my arms to get around, had made my upper body very strong. I competed in arm wrestling tournaments for many years, winning several world and national titles.

After that, I discovered handcycling, I've done a few RAGBRAI's and several centuries and truly enjoy riding. Through handcycling, I discovered sledhockey and have a paralympic gold medal from the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City.

About 4 years ago, things changed pretty dramatically. Over the years, I had used my arms quite a bit on a daily basis, and all the overuse had taken its toll. Fatigue and pain was becoming more and more prevalent, I had worked for many years and it was affecting my job. I was now dealing with Post Polio Syndrome and it was one of the toughest decisions I had ever made, so I had to quit my job.

I had worked for the same company for 25 years. The transition was not easy. I am a doer, not a sitter, but for the sake of preservation, a lifestyle change was needed. Up until about 4 months ago, I just kind of moped around, not sure what I was gonna do. I was 47 when I left my job, too young to sit around. Then, I found this site, quite an awakening.

All of a sudden, I was energized, saved my pennies, bought an angle grinder, a small welder and other tools when I could afford them. I had mentioned in another post that my neighbor and I are building 4 Warrior trikes, one of those is for my son-in-law who is an Iraqi vet in the infantry. He came home with a partial spinal cord injury, he has limited use of his legs, but still strong enough to ride, and hopefully gain some strength back.

With Brad's plans, this trike is gonna give my son-in-law some freedom back. He will now be able to ride with his sons. For me, I absolutely enjoy wheeling out to the garage, taking a piece of square tubing and creating something with it, figuring out angles, steering, chain lines, etc.

It feels good to use my brain and my hands again to do something productive. It is more than just trikes and bikes to me - it's an opportunity to build something at my own pace, to learn new things, maybe even start a trike rental business, but mostly, it has given me a new beginning.

Again, thanks to everyone

~ Jack