My Friend, Kenny

Once during an interview for a newspaper, I was asked if I was angry. Confused, I asked him to clarify. He said, “Okay I’ll come right out with it…are you mad at God because you were born with a disability?” Having been asked this question before I just smiled and gave my normal answer, “No, because I believe that God put me in this situation because he knew I was strong enough to handle it. He surrounded me with a great family and friends who always encourage me to be the best I can. If He can use my struggles/accomplishments to help inspire others, then I’m okay with that. In fact, I consider it my duty.” Unfortunately, the interview was about my book and he had a limited number of words, so that statement didn’t make the story.

Of course, it can be depressing and scary to watch my parents grow older and struggle to take care of me, but I can still smile every day because I know the answer to that problem will appear. The simple solution is to find a strong woman to marry, so she can be my new, younger caregiver. It would be nice if she had money as well to afford nursing care (more than the 16 hours per week thanks to Medicaid), but that isn’t happening! Plan B was to be a best-selling author and have the money to fund my own healthcare needs, but My Online Angel isn’t selling very well. It has been out 2 years and all of my friends still haven’t bought a copy (hint hint). So plan C is to open my own firm as a financial planner, properly invest the fees received, and build the fortune required for my care. I’ll go all the way to plan Z if I have to because I know if I’m not looking for the answer, it will never appear.

While I can tolerate having a disability, I hate when it causes me to miss out on things I should have attended. Recently, I had pneumonia, which caused me to miss the funeral of a dear friend, Kenny Carnes. I can honestly say Kenny had a major impact on me. He was a paraplegic and started pushing me to be the best I could at a young age. There would not be an NCEWHA if Kenny didn’t point me in the right direction.

I first met Kenny at church when he was in town visiting his parents. I was about 13 years old and was the only person in the community in a wheelchair, so I didn’t really have that “role model” needed by all people learning how to live with a disability. I thought he was awesome! He was a professional racer and had been to the Paralympics. He asked if I participated in any sports. I told him I liked playing hockey in my driveway, but there were no teams and I didn’t know if it was even a sport option for people with disabilities. Kenny then took my address and sent me a copy of Sports ‘N Spokes magazine where I found an ad for the USEWHA. The rest is history!

When the NCEWHA finally started, Kenny was right there to help us build. When we didn’t have enough players, he would play with us. When we developed into a full roster, he stepped away and enjoyed hearing about our growth. He was always recruiting for us while he was working at the local Walmart.

For some, Kenny was just the guy who rode down our local roads on his handcycle, but to those that truly knew him, he was so much more. Thank you, Kenny, for being an inspiration to me at such an early age and thank you for helping my teammates and I chase down our dreams. You can read his tribute here.

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