Growing up, Richie Parker heard the words “you can’t” more times than he could count.
But the boy who was born without arms was too busy achieving his dreams to listen. That same tenacity has shaped him into a successful 36-year-old who continues to defy expectations today.
Richie credits his parents, Tracy and Lottie, for his can-do attitude. The Parkers did everything they could to give their son a normal childhood in Beaufort, South Carolina, which meant letting Richie figure out how to do things on his own.
As a result, he could do everything his peers did — just differently. For example, when his neighbors started riding bikes, his parents welded a bar across Richie’s handlebars so he could steer with his head.
Driving came next for the teenager, who shares a passion for automotive tinkering with his dad. At just 15, he purchased his dream car: a Chevy Impala SS, which he modified so he could drive with his feet.
Richie went on to graduate from Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, then set his sights on NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports, where he landed a 10-month internship.
“I knew he could do the things that I needed him to do,” engineering manager Rex Stump told ESPN. “It was more a question of how.”
Like he always does, Richie quickly found the answer and impressed his colleagues so much that his internship turned into a career! His ingenuity landed him a job designing car frames and body parts for the organization’s racing teams.
True to his nature, Richie didn’t stop there. After 12 years at Hendrick Motorsports, he returned to Clemson to pursue a master’s degree in business administration in entrepreneurship. He graduated in 2017 and is now the cofounder of Optimech Solutions, a company that offers mechanical engineering services to other organizations.
“I can’t say that there’s anything that I can’t do,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a whole lot in life period that I can say that I can’t do — just things that I haven’t done yet.”
This incredible individual is encouraging people all around the world! For the past six years, he’s been giving motivational speeches to schools, churches, sports teams, and even scientists at NASA. He’s also caught the attention of former NBA star Magic Johnson.
Richie has such a powerful ability to see opportunities where other people see limits. Just imagine what we could all accomplish if we had his outlook!
Learn more about Richie’s inspiring journey in the video below, and share his story as a reminder that we can do anything we put our minds to.
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