|Hmiel runs The Rock Jan. 26|
Hmiel suffered critical head, back, and neck injuries in a USAC Silver Crown qualifying crash at the Terre Haute Action Track on October 9, 2010 that left him paralyzed. Doctors initially told his family that he had a 10-percent chance to live. He was not expected to walk or breathe on his own again, and was not supposed to move his fingers, arms, toes or feet. The former driver has defied all those predictions, however, regaining some function in all his extremities, while continuing to use a wheelchair.
Now, Hmiel has an opportunity to do something else few expected him to do; climbing back behind the wheel of a race car at Rockingham Speedway.
"I can't wait," said Hmiel this week. "I have had a lot of people in my corner pulling for me since I got injured, and without the support and prayers from my family, friends and fans, I wouldn't be where I am today on the road to recovery. Having this opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a racecar with Accessible Racing will allow me to show everyone their prayers haven't gone unanswered and that anything is possible.”
Accessible Racing has offered dozens of disabled persons – including many former members of the United States military – to experience the freedom, hope and inspiration of driving an actual race car, providing incentive for them to improve the quality of their lives and continue to reintegrate into society. Hmiel is a prime example of what the program is all about; providing a road map to recovery for newly disabled persons to see, believe and achieve.
“I think it is amazing what Accessible Racing stands for and what they do for our wounded veterans and physically disabled,” said Hmiel. “It is very important for me to continue to be an inspiration and give back to help people in my position. I hope this event at Rockingham serves that purpose and opens the eyes of other disabled people that they too can overcome their challenges."
Accessible Racing is the brainchild of Co-Founder and President Brian Hanaford, who himself was the victim of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as a result of an automobile accident. After years of recovery and emotional distress, Hanaford used his family’s connections in stock car racing to obtain and modify a race car to assist the physically challenged.
"Seeing the look on disabled peoples’ faces when they took a ride in my racecar was a life changing experience for me,” he explained. “I want to continue sharing what has been a gift from God to me.”
The Accessible Racing Driving Experience provides an exciting and therapeutic experience that helps disabled individuals rediscover their capabilities, allowing individuals to experience the excitement of competition and the thrill of victory; preparing them to better face adversity and the challenges of living with a disability.
As part of the Jan. 26 Rockingham Speedway event, Hmiel, media members and other dignitaries will visit an area hospital to deliver the message that life does not end after a traumatic head or spinal injury. To help make this special event happen, visit http://tinyurl.com/cxq7wfy. Donations are being accepted now through January 26. To find out more about Accessible Racing please visit www.accessibleracing.com.