July 1, 2010
This week's hero, Tracy Fewell, was born with Cerebral Palsy, and was told by doctors he would spend his life in a wheelchair. Nowadays, you can find Fewell on the grounds of the University of Virginia, but if you're looking for him in a wheelchair, you won't find him.
Instead, he chooses a faster set of wheels as a drag racer.
Monday through Friday, Fewell scales the stairs at UVa's Alderman Library to go to work. He met Sue Hildebrand while at UVa and shared with her stories of his disorder and his dream of becoming a drag racer.
"I didn't expect it, but I was sort of surprised that he just kid of steps out of the box. I was excited to see that he would do that, that he didn't let his disability impair him from what he wanted to do," said Hildebrand, a friend.
While Fewell may be slow on foot, he's topped speeds of 130 MPH on wheels. He described the first time he got behind the wheel of a drag racing car as the day he felt normal.
"Fun! That day I felt normal. That makes me feel normal. I don't have [any] doubts, nothing," said Fewell.
Fewell bought his own drag racing car in the early 90's, building it up while building his own confidence. Years later, he started a racing team called "Fewell's Racing" to promote awareness for Cerebral Palsy.
"You do whatever you want to. All you have to do is put your mind to it. Just because you have a disability doesn't mean you can't do what you want to do if you have the heart for it," said Fewell.
Fewell's new dream is to find a sponsor and run in a minor league drag racing circuit, but even more than than, he's hoping to get married to his girlfriend who lives with Multiple Sclerosis.