Brian Freeman’s daughter doesn’t know her father as anything but partially paralyzed in his legs. He’s been this way after a car accident and subsequent surgery left him with nothing but a little movement in his right leg since Katie was 2-years-old.
As a result, Freeman thinks “she looks at me in a different light than most people.” Which is why when the now 8-year-old suggested her wheelchair-using dad get into Jujitsu, a form of martial arts, Freeman gave it a try, defying what many others would say he could never do, according to WBTV-TV.
“She wanted me to do it because it was something we could do together,” the North Carolina father told the news station.
Though he might have balked at first, he added that he “couldn’t argue with any of the reasons that she gave me.”
Using upper body strength, Freeman gets into and out of his chair at the end of the mat. He scoots, pushing himself with his hands to his his Jujitsu trainer. As he learns the art, he’s not afraid to ask the teacher if something is going to be a problem if he can’t do a move without the full use of his legs.
Seven years ago, Freeman was in a car accident, requiring surgery. During surgery, he recalled how doctors woke him up, asking him to move his legs, wiggle his toes. He followed their instruction, but it turned out, he only thought he was doing as told.
“I said, ‘I am’ and they said, ‘no, you’re not,” Freeman told WBTV. “I really thought that I was moving my legs.”
The blood supply to his spine was cut off.
Freeman told the news station that he recognize how easy it would be to wallow in the lost use of his legs, but took a different path instead.
“I’m going to be paralyzed and disabled regardless of my attitude. So, I can be miserable or happy, and I chose happy,” he said.
The accident and his new situation gave him a “fresh perspective on life” and what’s really important in it.