Greg Smith has become the "voice" of the disability movement as a result of his radio program about people with disabilities. In this morning's HealthWatch, Randal Pinkston has more.
For years when Greg Smith went to work, he went to his bedroom at his parents' house in Ohio. And from there, he broadcast his radio program about people with disabilities.
"Welcome to On a Roll talk radio on life and disability from the hip crip who gives you tips," Smith would say into the microphone.
"I see a niche for myself in the national media as the wheelchair dude with attitude," says Smith. "I focus on life. I don't focus on disability."
For 8 years, he developed his program and built an audience, becoming well known among advocates and activists for the disabled. And it's paid off. In November, Smith got his own home and a new studio in Tampa, Florida, where his Sunday night call-in program is broadcast on 20 stations and the Internet.
"It's love radio month on On-A-Roll, so we're gonna talk about the good stuff--the birds and bees--from a disability perspective," announces Smith to the microphone.
"I do have a sense of urgency, about achieving my goals. People call me impatient. I am," says Smith.
Smith was 2 when doctors discovered he had a form of muscular dystrophy. "The prognosis was that he would die within 10 years," his mother, Ardelia Smith says.
But no one told Greg. He is now 36 years old. "He always had this desire to want to do things and nothing would stop him," his father, James Smith, says.
His parents supported his determination and encouraged his dreams, even when they seemed impossible. "He came home and said, 'I want to be in the marching band.' I said, 'Greg, are you sure? Why don't you just stay in the concert band.' 'No, no. I'm going to be in the marching band,'" says mother, Ardelia Smith.
He learned how to drive the wheelchair with his foot and joined his high school's marching band. "We mounted the drums, then later on, the xylophone and the bells on my power chair," says Smith.
The experience taught him a profound lesson. "I hate to think where I'd be if that didn't happen in my life because it taught me a lot about creating your own reality," says Smith.
And leave it to Smith to defy the odds in his personal life. No one ever told him he couldn't be a father. So, he is. Now divorced, his parents help care for his three children.
His parents call their grandchildren "miracle children. " I don't see myself as a mistake," says Smith. "I don't view anyone with a disability as having anything wrong with them. My thing is to cure society's disability about disability."
If you'd like to check out Greg Smith's show, it's available over the Internet at www.onarollradio.com
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