Ever since an accident while attempting to qualify for a United States Auto Club (USAC) race in Terra Haute, Ind. on Oct. 9, 2010 left Shane Hmiel paralyzed, his road to recovery has been nothing short of miraculous and has served as an inspiration to many.
Doctors initially told Hmiel and his family that he had a 10 percent chance to live and that he would never walk or breathe on his own again. He wasn't supposed to ever move his fingers again. He wasn't supposed to ever move his arms again. He wasn't supposed to ever move his toes or his feet again. But he has defied the odds and overcome all those things. Now, Hmiel has the opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a racecar with Accessible Racing at Rockingham Speedway on Saturday, Jan. 26.
"I can't wait for this event at Rockingham Speedway," said Hmiel. "I have had a lot of people in my corner pulling for me since I got injured and without all my family, friends, and fans support and prayers I wouldn't be where I am today on my road to recovery. I can't thank Andy Hillenburg and the folks at Rockingham enough for allowing this event to take place at their track. I have great memories of the Rock from growing up as a kid all the way through my racing days so it means a lot to me that Rockingham is the first track I get to drive on since my accident."
Accessible Racing is the brainchild of co-founder and president Brian Hanaford and is built on the mindset of breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for disabled Vets and civilians. Hanaford grew up in an auto racing family but choose a different path in life. Running became his passion but a car accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that changed the course of his life. After years of recovery and emotional distress, he decided to modify a race car to assist the physically challenged.
"Seeing the look on other disabled peoples' faces when they took a ride in my racecar was a life-changing experience for me," Hanaford said. "Improving somebody's quality of life in this way is more fulfilling then any self help book or organization I learned of in 30 years. I want to continue sharing with others what has been a gift from God to me."
The Accessible Racing driving experience provides an exciting and therapeutic experience that helps disabled individuals rediscover their capabilities. It opens up the possibilities in their lives after an accident, illness or injury. It allows individuals to experience the excitement of competition. These experiences help prepare individuals after rehabilitation to face the adversity of a disability in their lives and to learn to bounce back in the face of challenge and change.
Contributions and continued support will help Hmiel take another huge step on his road to recovery and continue the positive impact Accessible Racing is providing for disabled veterans and civilians. For more information on how you can be involved to help make this special event happen, please click here.
Donations are being accepted through Jan. 26.