In Forest Lake, Minnesota, one paralyzed veteran is looking to race his rocket-enhanced wheelchair at 100 mph for an event this September, according to the Saint Croix Valley Press.
The man, 44, was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident back in 1986, but his outlook for recovery and life in general remains as positive as ever. He is living with paralysis the best way he knows how — by having fun.
One paralyzed veteran is trying to set a speed record in his rocket-propelled wheelchair.
For a September 5 event, the man is looking to race at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour in a rocket equipped wheelchair at the 22nd Annual Coca-Cola Muscle Car Shootout held at Brainerd International Raceway. The goal: getting put down in the Guinness Book of World Records.
“Why not be happy?” he questions. “Happy people live longer, and there’s nothing to be sad about. People are worse off than me big time. I get to open my eyes every morning and look at stuff, breathe and smell the flowers. And every day is just as good as the one before.”
A veteran of the Navy, he was in San Diego for his assignment on the U.S.S. Frederick when he was involved in an auto accident on a motorcycle and broke his T2 vertebrae when a piece of lumber went through his right armpit and into his back.
He had to undergo spinal cord treatments for five months in a local hospital before moving to a V.A. hospital in Seattle for two more months of rehabilitation. The spinal cord injury left him as a paraplegic, but not without goals and a drive to reach those goals. The vet eventually made his way back to his hometown of Forest Lake in 1991 and that’s when life got interesting.
He always loved automobiles, but he was never great at sports or athletics. Then, in 1999, he began training for a nationwide sporting competition designed for those athletes confined to wheelchairs and known as the National Veterans Military Games. He continued to compete in the games throughout the next few years, taking home medals in the javelin and bench press several times.
It was earlier this year, however, that he gave into his need for speed, setting his sights on a downhill wheelchair race. The man who was going to design his wheelchair is an engineer that had already built a prototype chair for his own amusement. With this chair, the designer added a lawnmower seat, mirrors, head and taillights along with five-point racing harness to ensure it was race ready.
“Basically, a steam engine or rocket shoots super-heated steam out the back with 500 pounds of thrust,” he described his vehicle. The speed demon will also suit up in protective body armor for his race because he does not want to get another personal injury while competing this fall.
“My goal is to do whatever speed I can do safely,” he said, and our firm backs him up in the safety department 100 percent.