Excerpt from The Daily Journal Website:
TUPELO – Cars and trucks often slow down when driving by the intersection of Green and Chestnut streets, because Brad Gillespie and his helpers create a sawdust-coated spectacle.
While maneuvering his wheelchair beneath an event tent set up over his saw, Gillespie builds porch swings, tables, benches, Adirondack chairs and more. Everything’s for sale, and the proceeds benefit Our Artworks, a Tupelo-based nonprofit program for people with mental and physical disabilities.
“We’re not disabled. We’re abled. We’re able-bodied. That’s what I want people to know,” the 42-year-old said. “Maybe we just do it slower than everybody else.”
As far as he knew, Gillespie was a healthy person for the majority of his life. He started having problems in 2010.
“I was skinny and this liver disease made me get real big,” he said. “I was falling a lot.”
The first diagnosis was a bruised liver, which doctors thought was caused by all the shaking around he’d experienced as a truck driver. The eventual diagnosis was liver disease that he’d probably had since birth.
He’s on a transplant waiting list, but he’ll never walk again. The disease attacked the nerves below his waist, and the neuropathy is irreversible.
“I can move my legs, but I can’t feel them,” Gillespie said. “I can’t stand up. It’d be like floating on air.”
He’s quick to smile these days, but the reality of his situation hit hard at first. He mentally circled in on himself.
“When you go through a change like that, you get into a depression. You don’t want to do anything,” he said, “but we encourage people not to do that. We encourage them to get out.”
That’s the gospel according to Gillespie, and he learned it from William Heard, the 42-year-old founder and director of Our Artworks. Injured in a car accident, Heard knows firsthand about the despondency that can follow a loss of mobility.
But Heard found a way out of his swirling emotions, and it’s both as simple and as complicated as it sounds.
“Find out what you can do. Do good at it. Do it. Don’t stop doing it,” he said. “You’ve got to stay busy. Get up early and keep going. That’s it, man.”
To read the full article please visit http://www.djournal.com/lifestyle/after-diagnosis-tupelo-man-discovers-passion-for-woodwork/article_db22e9c7-dc3a-509c-a2a3-f072a64e3ede.html