Meet Rob Wood: a loving father, a fierce advocate and a loyal friend. He is the perfect example of how hard work in the face of adversity can lead to great things.
“It can always be worse and there almost always is another way no matter what it is. It might be tricky, it might be expensive, but you CAN find different things and ways to overcome it. Life is still possible.” - Rob Wood
Rob is a T7-T8 incomplete paraplegic from a motorcycle accident in 2013. He had worked as a mechanic for Pierce Transit prior to his injury and found himself in a position where he couldn’t return to his work, yet made too much money to receive the state funded programs provided to others with disabilities. He needed to find backdoor methods in order to move forward. He had two young boys at the time of his injury, a 2 month old and an almost 2 year old, and realized he could either wallow and drink until he died or use his injury as a catalyst to move forward and better himself. His persistence, desire to make a change, curiosity and through learning tips and tricks from others, he figured out how to get funding to go to school. He ended up with four associates and a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science - Information Technology Software Development.
Connecting to the Here and Now Project
Our first annual meet-up in 2014 was held at the Dacca Barn in Fife Washington. Somebody in Rob’s life had found the link to H&NP and told him about the meet-up, “...and I’ve been coming ever since.” Co-Founder and President Kenny Salvini remembers Rob at this first gathering. “He was 13 months out. It was a big deal to see someone that was relatively newly injured.”
He wasn’t active in the community until 2015, when H&NP’s monthly meetings started. He recounts how in the first few years after his injury he didn’t have anyone to help guide or explain things to him. “It was nice to be able to meet people who understand it.” Through meeting others and learning things he started going to sporting events, camping and has done a bunch of things he didn’t think were possible. He even owns a car which he originally didn’t think was possible. “You don’t have to be engaged with the group, even if you just sit there. One time you will have something to say and that might be the time you have something new to share with someone else.” Knowing that the group is out there, he feels, is important to help new people get back into life.
Rob has been a long-time contributor to the organization, handling tech support issues for our DAC-WA forums and recently joined the board of Here and Now Project in 2022.
Rob recently moved to Texas when he got a job at General Motors. His sons are now 10 and 12, he has a Pitbull, Sadie, and spends his free time working on cars, exploring all Texas has to offer and continues to settle into his new space. “I want to do things - go to concerts, buy cars. I’m finally in a position to not worry.” In the next couple of years, Rob plans to go back to school for his Masters. To say he’s a go-getter would be an understatement. Kenny remarks, “his work ethic is what contributed most to his success. His willingness to show up and think outside the box for his recovery. He put in the work.”
He continues to be a strong advocate whenever he encounters misuse of handicap parking, lack of curb cuts or inaccessible venues. He encourages everyone to advocate for themselves, too. “I’m getting ready to take on the town I live in since there is no handicap parking within 8 blocks of the downtown area.” Rob has gone to council meetings and is contemplating running for city council in hopes of making real change.
The Here and Now Project misses his presence, but we are grateful for the virtual space where we can keep in touch. Keep on showing the world how awesome you are, Rob!