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12-year-old won’t let his disability stop him from fulfilling his farming dream

John Ray

Ontario Farmer | Facebook | Fair Use

Cerith Gardiner - published on 09/04/21

Video of inspirational youngster is an important reminder of how we can overcome obstacles.

Finding a rewarding career in life is often tricky, and for one young wannabe farmer, a disability could so easily have crushed his dreams. But as a recent TikTok video showed, the 12-year-old isn’t going to let his muscular dystrophy stop him from rolling up his sleeves and getting dirty.

John Ray was born with a rare congenital form of the muscular disease that causes muscles to weaken. “When he was born his prognosis was not good. The doctors said with a lot of love they didn’t expect him to live this long,” shared John’s mother, Trina Reid with Ontario Farmer.

Thankfully, however, John has proved doctors wrong by living life to the full, so much so that he’s able to lend a much needed hand to his father, Donny Ray, who is busy driving truck, raising livestock and growing produce that is then sold at farmers’ markets and in the family’s farm shop.

Young John used to be brought to a specific area of the farm to work, but due to his disability he was very restricted in his movements, and how much he could help. His regular wheelchair wasn’t suitable for farm life, so the family tried their best to adapt to their son’s needs.

However, one day Donny came across an all-terrain wheelchair, the Action Trackchair. Unfortunately the chair came with a hefty price tag that the family couldn’t take a loan out to buy, as it wasn’t considered a farm implement. Thankfully Trina spotted a second-hand one for sale and with the help of Donny’s employer, Wallenstein Feed & Supply Ltd., the family were able to buy the impressive piece of equipment.

John wasn’t told about the new chair. The family decided to get it up and running before they showed John. Donny made a few adaptions so John could help with the feeding in the barn. Over the next two months he’s even been out in the fields helping with the potato planting.

In the video, Trina aptly captioned “No disabilities here, only new abilities,” we get to see a very industrious John at work: in the barn and out in the fields.

“We planted 1,500 pounds of potatoes and hooked the wagon to the back of his chair. We just loaded it up and he pulled it down the row,” Donny shared. “That’s something he’s never been able to do before. Now, he can go anywhere.”

The family now need to face the obstacles that come with accessibility on the farm, an issue many young people with disabilities have in the farming community. Luckily the family, and John, have the ability to find solutions to the obstacles that come their way. In fact further customized equipment might even allow John to start a grass cutting business.

So with the love, support, and determination of John’s family, the youngster’s future farming career is definitely looking hopeful. And as his mom shares:

“If John has taught me anything, it’s that perseverance is everything. There is nothing he says he can’t do.”

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