In 2003 Joe White became paralyzed from the neck down. No longer was he able walk about freely. However, while the accident robbed him of the ability to walk, he refused to allow it to keep him from being a good father. In fact his efforts have been so admirable that he was nominated as one of the ‘Best Dads On Wheels’.
While attending a county fair in 2003, Joe White was thrown from a mechanical bull and suffered severe spinal trauma. Joe White found himself without the ability to move any portion of his body below his neck and using a wheelchair for mobility. For some this setback would be more than enough to keep them from moving forward in life or deprive them of the inspiration necessary to be a good father. Not for White though.
“Being a good dad is being a good dad, whether you’re in a chair or not,” say White.
Since his accident, White has taken his two daughters Paige, 12, and Zoe Patterson, 17, on many trips across the country and even to Canada. It wasn’t until one such trip to Florida, about a year after White’s initial accident, that he realized that he was capable and ready to give his daughters the great father he knew they deserved.
In the beginning, White saw his paralysis as a mixed blessing. On the one hand he had loss the use of most his body. However on the other he gained something far more precious, pure quality time with Paige. The transitional period was understandably rough at first. White had to learn what he could and could not do for his daughters. Initially it even seemed as though he was being taken care of. White quickly caught up and adapted to the situation.
In addition to being a great father to his daughters, White has dedicated himself to advancing himself and others who suffer from spinal cord injuries. He is responsible for starting the Northwest Indiana Spinal Cord Injury Group as well as annual walks to raise awareness and money for research. Also White has taken his desire to help and educate a step further by previously serving as a substitute teacher and now attending Indiana University Northwest part in hopes of becoming a science teacher in secondary education. And if that wasn’t enough, he has also served as the coach of Paige’s basketball and soccer team at the Boys & Girls Club.
With all of this in mind, it wasn’t hard for White’s girlfriend, Christy Earheart, to have the inspiration to nominate him for the “Best Dad on Wheels” award. The award, which is sponsored by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, recently concluded it’s polling. White impressively secured a position amongst the top 10 finalists, coming in above 50 other prospective candidates and 8,000 votes.
“I just do what I do. I don’t look for or expect any special recognition for it.”