COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Georgia man is showing how his disabilities don't hold him back, and thanks to one Midlands business, he found a way to enhance his quality of life.
Joseph Barnhart grew up on a small family farm just south of Augusta, GA. He has faced many challenges because of his disabilities that able-bodied people take for granted.
“I had a few surgeries, but right now it’s mostly a debilitating nervous condition and my balance," Barnhart said. "Of course with that, I have not been able to drive all my life."
Having never driven before “except maybe a tractor on the family farm,” he created a bucket list of things he’d like to achieve, despite his life limitations.
Some of those included airing his first documentary on TV, as well as skydiving.
Barnhart says he went skydiving for life experience and as a way to prove to himself what he could do.
Between going skydiving and the documentary, Barnhart said it gave him the confidence to accomplish his next major life challenge - to become more mobile.
At one point, he thought he would never be driving in his life. He also considers this the “biggest limitation even over his physical situation.”
After a year of research and overcoming related challenges, the search led him to Hawg Scooters in Columbia. He met with the owner, Justin Clark, and test drove a moped trike.
“He called me out of the blue one day, he wanted to get some transportation,” Clark said. “He’s never driven before, so we lined up a date so he could come out here and try out a moped trike, which is a three-wheel version of a moped.”
Clark and his team custom made a moped trike for Barnhart.
“We fabricated a rear end mount for him to put his walker so he can drive with this and he can just load it up when he’s done and just ride around with it,” Clark said.
Being able to drive, a task now opening new paths and literal roadways, he says will unshackle him from his day-to-day limitations.
“Not being able to get out and hang out with friends, or different social functions like that, being able to work because you can’t always rely on public transportation so now I should be able to increase that,” Barnhart said.
It’s a small victory helping him achieve his main goal: to encourage others to achieve the impossible.
“If you have challenges, which anybody does have challenges just go out and do whatever you can to make those impossible things happen,” Barnhart said.