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Dan Bennett: Wheelchair Celebrity

Dan Bennett, a handicapped BC students, is an inspiration to students.

Heather Paisley

October 6, 2011

Forensic Science major, Craig Bennett, offers inspiration via wheels.

 

Craig Bennett, who prefers to be called by his middle name, Dan, is a handicapped BC student who is just like you and me.

 

A native from Fredericksburg, Va., Bennett can be seen driving around all over the sidewalks of BC.

 

“I go on the sidewalk, road, glass, and gravel,” said Bennett.

 

Before you ask, his wheelchair isn’t four-wheel drive.

 

“It’s two-wheel drive, but my wheels have great traction,” said Bennett.

 

Bennett’s wheelchair isn’t your plain-Jane, everyday wheelchair.

 

Bennettrampage_
Dan Bennett and his wheels

“I am working with Blair, the maintenance guy, to make the chair better,” he said. “I have lights now and foot plates so people can ride.”

 

His lights are blue flashlights that act as headlights. His footplates are on the back of his chair and have sandpaper glued on them for traction so that people can stand and hitch a ride.

 

BC students are always helping Bennett; just ask the posse of girls that hang around him and help him out.

 

“I don’t know how I have all of those girls,” he said. “My dad was only around four years out of my eighteen. I was raised by my mother and don’t really know how to connect with guys.”

 

Bennett likes being in Bluefield; it’s much different than back home.

 

“It’s a lot different where I live,” he said. “Where I live, people look down on me like I’m a mentally challenged guy, but when I’m here, I don’t hear that. I hear, ‘You can do it!’”

 

If you take a look around, everyone is different, yet the same.

 

“If you take my wheels, I’m just a normal guy,” said Bennett.

 

He’s right; he is a normal guy with a unique situation. According to Bennett, no one really knows an exact medical term for his condition.

 

“It’s a 1970’s disease that’s not contagious; it was really prominent in the ‘70’s,” he said. “It’s extremely rare now. Only three people in the world have what I have.”

 

Bennett wasn’t afraid to be interviewed by The Rampage because of his rare condition; he’s used to all kinds of publicity.

 

“I’ve been on TV 17 times and in the local paper 15, 16 times,” said Bennett. “Being on TV is nerve-racking a little bit, but once you get past the camera, it’s like talking to a normal person. I’m used to people coming up and throwing random questions at me.”

 

One of Bennett’s favorite pastimes is playing “Mario Kart.”

 

“I can drive! Get me behind a wheel and I’ll show you a real good time,” said Bennett. “The first time I drove was in my Daddy’s truck when I was eight; I went 20 miles per hour.”

 

His wheelchair only gets up to a speed of five miles per hour, but Bennett has a plan to change that.

 

“Blair and I want to get it up to 20,” he said.

 

In the United States, it’s illegal to race wheelchairs, but not in Canada, and Bennett wants to race his.

 

“I have a buddy in Canada and he has his own wheelchair racing company,” said Bennett. “He has a wheelchair where he put a V6 engine in it. He put Army tank tracks on one and it goes six miles an hour off road and everything.”

 

Whether or not Bennett becomes a professional wheelchair driver is something that only time will tell. As of now, he wants to focus on the task at hand, this very moment.

 

“I try not to look in the past or the future,” said Bennett. “The past is the past and the future can

 

change at any time. If you look at the future, you miss the present. The present’s a gift; that’s why it’s called the present.”

 

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