The Disability That’s Not So Much of a Disability, After All

Sometimes when parents receive a diagnosis that their unborn child will suffer from a disability, they might believe the quality of that child’s life will be so negative or troubled that it would be in his or her best interest not to be born at all.

Yet, there are plenty of examples that prove the opposite is true.

For instance, take Richie Parker. Richie rides a bike, drives a car and engineers chassis and body components for NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports, which boasts legends like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson as clients. None of that may sound like a big deal until you realize that Richie Parker has no arms.

When Parker’s parents discovered their son wouldn’t have arms, they were worried, but accepting of the matter. And of course, they fell in love with him from the moment they saw him. They tried to give him as normal an upbringing as possible, teaching him to use his chin, shoulders and feet to pick things up, open doors and even use a computer. As revealed in a recent ESPN segment, they reconfigured the handlebars on his bicycle to allow him to ride like the other kids.

As he got older and grew determined to be more independent, Parker developed an interest in cars, especially the 1964 Chevy Impala SS. He bought the vehicle from its previous owners, and had it fitted with a special disc on the floor that he uses to steer.

When Parker started working for Hendrick, some of his co-workers doubted that he’d be able to do the job. Eight years and five NASCAR championships later, he’s proven them wrong. Parker told ESPN, “I don’t know that there’s a whole lot in life that I can say that I can’t do — just things that I haven’t done yet.”

The full ESPN segment is embedded below. It’s worth the seven minutes of your time to see Richie Parker in action.

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.