Chris Hrabik had no idea what would develop from a gift he made for his sister’s wedding last year, and he is pretty much amazed at how it has changed his life and provided an opportunity for him to do something with a much bigger purpose. As a teenager, Chris always had an interest in metal work, construction and building. He did a little welding in high school and was top of his class in vo-tech, so he was allowed to go outside of school to work, which he loved doing. However, his life changed dramatically after high school. Chris was a passenger in a truck that accidentally slid off the road and rolled over, leaving Chris with a broken neck. At the age of 18, Chris was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. While he was in the hospital, a motivational speaker came to talk with him about adapting to a different kind of life as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Chris wasn’t happy with the kind of lifestyle the speaker talked about. He knew he wanted more from his life, even though he was in a wheelchair. Chris never lost his compassion to build things, and he went back to school and got an associate degree in construction. In 2011, his sister was getting married, and Chris wanted to give her something special. Her favorite flower was a sunflower, and Chris had seen one he liked in Arkansas, made of metal, but it was very expensive. He decided to try and make one himself, out of scrap metal. When the neighbors saw his creation, they asked Chris to make a sunflower for them. “It kind of steamrolled after that,” Chris said. “Everybody wanted one. They just came out of the woodwork It has been a challenge for Chris to learn to do the metal cutting and welding in a wheelchair, with one good arm and only partial use of the other. He says he has been living with his condition long enough to learn how to make the most beneficial use of his left hand, which doesn’t close. “Everything is pretty much one handed, but there are little tricks I have learned,” he said. The list of new metal art items that Chris makes is growing every day. He has added daisies and other flowers, elk heads, deer, fish, custom letters, wine bottle trees, pumpkins, and even made a three-dimensional helicopter with a five-foot wing span. He said he can make just about anything if he sees a picture, or if someone has a good idea of what they want, he will try to make it. This text is from an article in the cash book journal, to view the full story click on the link below.




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