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Crushing Roadblocks to Forge New Trails

By Denise Fisher, based on Joanne de Biasi’s interview with Vernon Cargill

Vernon Cargill spreads his arms and smile while tandem skydiving with an instructor wearing a helmet and parachute backpack.

When a devastating injury from a car accident caused irreparable damage to the right side of his body, Vernon Cargill was faced with a crossroads — he could either give in to the loss of his previous abilities or create a world based on his new strengths. For the last 18 years, he’s been proving he can overcome all that’s presented to him.

Multiple surgeries could not completely repair his lower leg, and his body eventually rejected the metal needed for stability. But upon meeting a chiropractor, Vernon was provided with hopeful treatment. Under the care of Dr. Mike Castrichini at CAS Chiropractic, a new technique for manipulating his joints was introduced. Within one year, following seven procedures, Vernon started to ride a stationary bike and eventually became ambulatory again. Pushing himself from being comfortable and committing to meeting 100% of his goals got him out of his wheelchair and propelled him to new levels of physical strength and accomplishments.

Vernon and Dr. Mike pose for the camera holding a plaque Vernon made for the doctor to thank him.
Vernon credits Dr. Mike for believing in an outcome that other doctors, surgeons, and physical therapists thought wasn't possible.

New Home, New Purpose

Though Vernon was only visiting Phoenix when his accident occurred, he stayed for long-term rehabilitation and learned to love living there, eventually making it his permanent home. Becoming a member of the Personal Success Institute (PSI) was key to finding a network of people with a common goal of self-development. Developing this new community through self-advocacy broadened his social circle, helping him establish a life of purpose.

Attending a ranch for a training workshop in advanced leadership led him to achieve small personal goals, including climbing to the top of a telephone pole, then jumping to a target, as well as skydiving.

Advocating for Equitable Trail Access

Vernon bikes with a group he created called Riders With Limitations and has incorporated an electric bike into the sport for further success. Falling and breaking his wrist trying to keep up with the others prompted him to pursue this new option.

For someone with Vernon’s type of disability, an electric bike levels the riding field. Upon discovering this alternative to a traditional bicycle, his perspective changed, and his drive to stay active grew. But soon into his excursions on various trails, he learned that electric bikes are banned in many public spaces, including national parks.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, different rules apply when an OPDMD (other power-driven motor device) is being used by a person with a mobility disability than when it is being used by a person without a mobility disability. Since the signing of Secretary’s Order 3376 in August 2019, the regulation permits the use of electric bikes for those with mobility disabilities, despite any rules imposed by a park or other place open to the public that state otherwise. Vernon considers himself an activist and ambassador for the federal regulation and spends a lot of time attending city council meetings and educating park employees and volunteers.

Living Like He Was Dying

Through his outlook on life and network of friends, Vernon seeks to live as one of his favorite songs, Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying,” expresses; he went skydiving, Rocky Mountain climbing, and rode a mechanical bull named Fu Manchu…to name only a few of his exciting experiences!

An in-air skydiving selfie of Vernon smiling wide, wearing goggles, with his tandem skydiving instructor behind him wearing a helmet. Both spread their arms wide as if flying.

As he continues to create his life goals, Vernon does not see failure as an option, relying on himself and others to hold him accountable for living out his purpose and success!


For more information on OPDMD laws, visit:

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