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Disabilities not inabilities

On May 7, 2006, John Hoy experienced an accident that would change his life forever. "I was heading to the motor cross track with my son to practice," he explained. During practice Hoy fell from his bike, causing a spinal injury, which resulted in paraplegia. As he lay there he was convinced that "in spite of the pain I felt, God truly wasn't done with me yet." It would be three months from that day before he would come home to his family again.

Like many people with disabilities, Hoy questioned his future. "How will I live? Can I go back to work?" he wondered. Thanks to efforts by the American Association of People with Disabilities and the Office of Disability Employment Policy, people with disabilities are being given an opportunity to learn new skills and experience a work environment that may lead them to a career. The two organizations hosted the kick off breakfast for the Greater Syracuse Disability Mentoring Day last Wednesday.

Fortunately for Hoy, his employer, Ken Craig, president of Housing Visions Unlimited, a non-profit company that revitalizes and creates affordable housing for low-income families, finds him to be an asset and was glad to make accommodations for his wheel-chair at the job site. Hoy is the company's director of construction. According to Craig, Hoy's job performance and commitment to the company surpasses the fact that he uses a wheelchair. "We didn't hire Jim out of compassion," Craig said. "He is one of the best employees we have."

Hoy, who is also a husband addressed a crowded room for the breakfast, which was held at Drumlins Country Club. His mood was light and jovial.

"You have excellent parking and great seats at sporting events," Hoy smiled.

As his expression turned austere, he elaborated on how his spine was irreversibly injured. Once an avid kayaker and downhill skier, Hoy never anticipated the tragic fall that impacted every facet of his life.

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