Of the many projects that flow into and out of our welding & fabrication shop, some of the projects closest to my heart are for customers who are physically challenged, passionate about their sports, fiercely competitive, and with the persistence and determination to remain in the game. There are also the parents of children with challenges who ask us to fabricate “a ride” because they have a desire to share activities and adventures in any way that brings the younger family member joy and exhilaration in spite of their individual challenge, and the objective becomes a mutual cycling experience affording the child safety and security while feeling the winds in their face. I always love these projects.
I decided to post this particular story today because I recently had to make the very difficult business decision to decline a very special and challenging project for just such a customer. A young woman who loves racing and who was the victim of a crash that left her body partially paralyzed but left her spirit and competitiveness as fierce and strong as ever. Sadly, this decision came down to design time, material costs, affordability for the customer, and my own business income needs for continuous cash flow. Tough stuff…..it bothers me…..haunts my thoughts…..breaks my heart.
In a perfect world, there would be a ready solution for athletes with physical challenges. There are not. Knowing I have the ability but lack the resources is no solace in the face of disappointment for an athlete who now must look elsewhere.
It is a deep conflict for me, as I learn to accept my own limitations of a different but maddening type. The fact is I cannot bring this design to reality at a reasonable cost in a reasonable time frame. I hope this young woman and many athletes like her are able to find solutions that indeed keep them in the race; the flow of living life to the fullest. Things change and the day may come when I can rise to the challenge. In the meantime, I am cheering the efforts or all athletes of every variety who have hearts full of passion.