To answer why I trick out my Wheelchair… it makes people see something other than the disability...
I have always liked to tinker with things: cars, toys or projects; I like to stay busy. Being told in my 20’s I would never have full mobility was a hard pill to swallow.
Hi! My name is Rick Brewer. I was injured as a member of the USAF during Desert Storm. I was exposed to a cocktail of chemicals that, for lack of a better term; fried my nervous system. Doctors for years were puzzled as to how to treat such a condition, because these types of military related issues had never really been present before Desert Storm. Later they classified these types of conditions as DSS (Desert Storm Syndrome) or CFD (Chronic Fatigue Disorder).
See More Detail of My Military and Medical Journey
Determined for the wrong reasons
I hated the fact that I had to use a wheelchair, walker or cane to get around. In fact, I worked as hard hiding the facts as I did getting this way in the first place. I couldn’t stand the constant questions of what happened: again and again and again. Around my parents, inlaws and friends I used every ounce of strength to try and lead a normal life; essentially collapsing when I got home from fatigue (when I made it home). As the condition deteriorated, the harder it became to hide. I kept a full time job throughout all of this, blessed to work for companies that understood and appreciated what I could contribute.
For a short time I began to get better. From 2007 – 2009 I was able to get up and get around very well. The sudden fatigue was still an issue; but I was ready to take on the world. Then the damage that was caused by pushing myself developed into MS Multiple Sclerosis; resulting is a consistent levels of pain and weakness. Stress, lack of rest and physical exertion became my nemesis as these can trigger episodes that range from numbness, confusion to partial/total muscle paralysis, inability to breathe, loss of vision… blah, blah, blah.
Like any disability I have learned to monitor and regulate my activities to the point that I can have a fairly normal life. I have fought with the Government for years over this condition, hoping for treatment and/or compensation, but have had little success. (although i keep trying) Many still don’t even know the condition exists because I work hard to not let it interfere. However; as the days go by the ability to control the condition is significantly diminished. I have left the public life and now continue to work from home. God has blessed by providing me the opportunity to utilize a lifetime of experience working for Modern Web Studios; here I can work from home, lessening the risk of an episode.
Let’s Change the Focus
To help take the attention off my disability I started building up my wheelchair. First with stickers, then exhaust, then lights, then it kept building from there. We used to go to Disney regularly and each trip Disney cast members would make suggestions on what to add for the next trip. Mingle those great suggestions with our over-do attitude and you get Power Wheelz.
Every day is special
As my condition steadily declines I appreciate every day and try to make it the best day ever. I don’t know exactly how long I will be here on this earth.. but when I go I want people to recall that crazy ‘ol preacher blowing bubbles and entertaining kids with his Power Wheelz wheelchair.
A Master Tinker… What started it all was a VCR.
When I was 6 years old my dad threw away a Betamax VCR that stopped working, when I came home from school I saw it on the curb and brought it to my room and did what any 6 year old does…. took it apart. The thing was, it all made sense to me. I looked it over and found what didn’t seem to look right, fixed it AND IT WORKED! When Dad came home from work I was sitting in front of the TV watching a movie on his “broken” VCR. My dad then began to give me little projects here and there that I could fix and was always there to help if I had questions.
Tinkering.. A Family Tradition
It seems to be in the blood that we like to tinker with things to make them work better, go farther or faster; because Brewer’s are tinkerers. My son is no different as his room looks like a mad scientist went… mad in there. Circuit boards everywhere, switches, wires; he takes after his Dad… as I have taken after mine. Tinkering helps to keep the most important muscle we have working… our brain. Tinkering allows you to take on changes and look for solutions; when properly incorporated, it can help in everything in life because you are always looking to make everything around you better.
If it’s worth doing… it’s worth overdoing
This has been the Brewer family motto for generations and we incorporate it in everything we do. Whether in our project builds; like clocks, jewelry boxes, plinko game, skee ball or a puppet theater; to Power Wheelz… we always do the extra for the wow factor. Throughout my career in the military, automotive industry, business ownership and more; this concept has defined my character and my process for success. This concept flows into all we do in ministry and life as well. Whether we are helping out on a bus, teaching a class, or picking up trash; we try to give 100%… because Jesus gave 100% for us, should we represent any less in our lives?
One thing led to another
The Cast Members at Disney World have been a constant source of inspiration for Power Wheelz. Every trip someone would make suggestions as to what might be cool.. so when I get back, I go to work.
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens are still trying to figure me out…
Power Wheelz also acts as a relaxing get away for me as I try to keep, whats left of my brain, always thinking of ways to build and solve problems.
A Family Affair
My family has always been a constant source of comfort and support. They have become sort of a pit crew getting everything loaded and unloaded. Each member of my family has contributed ideas, labor and love into Power Wheelz and for that I will be forever grateful.
Left to right you have Lance, Lori, Me, Damietta, Isabella and Angelia. We like to go to Disney and car shows to relax and enjoy the things around us. Wave if you see us!
Trying to Stay Busy
Even as a disabled Veteran I can’t sit still. While my “go get ’em” attitude led to my disability… it is also what keeps me going. I have trained and worked as a Public Safety Chaplain, I have a substantial automotive background as well as owning a successful advertising/ marketing company. I have been active in my community as a volunteer for multiple public safety organizations and am very involved in Church.
I currently work as a small business consultant for Modern Web Studios which gives me the wonderful opportunity to work from home and share 30+ years of knowledge to our customers. As my medical circumstances change, so do I. I have stepped down from my work within the community but still work in an advisory capacity as needed.
Perhaps one day the Lord will take me home… but until then… I will be busy.