My name is Benny Diar, and I’m a paralyzed artist that paints with my mouth.
In February 2008, I was in an unfortunate car accident leaving me paralyzed from the neck down.
I am very thankful to still be alive. I was told I would never move, breathe, or eat on my own again. I’ve worked very hard to be completely off the ventilator, eat on my own, and have regained a good amount of function in my arms. I have also worked very hard, after years in a rehab facilities in the LA area, to move back up home to the Bay Area where I now live on my own.
Transportation is a huge part of my independence. Since the accident, being 6’4″, my size has been an obstacle in every aspect of my daily life, especially with transportation. With the size of my wheelchair, I was not able to fit in most public transportation vans/buses, causing me to miss many physical therapy sessions, doctors appointments, and outings.
Now, about 8 years after the accident, I have been blessed to finally get a new wheelchair, and have recovered enough to where I can now travel more and farther. It is shorter, more compact, and turns a lot better. I will always be tall, but with that, I am finally able to fit in 2 certain models of wheelchair accessible handicapped converted minivans.
Something that is very important to me, is talking to kids. It’s something I have been working towards as well. I don’t want to lecture them, but instead show them and talk to them about the decisions they make in life, and about motivation and the will to always keep going. I have talked to a lot of people about it, including teachers, a 911 operator, and other people that work with different charities, grants, and other organizations. My close friend of 20 years, Erik, works with youth through his Urban Art Collective, along with a few other organizations. We have been working for years to get me out there, and now with my health where it is, good reliable transportation is the last piece of the puzzle.