Nick Suckow of rural Dallas has recently found himself gaining a lot of national attention just by following where his heart leads him.
After suffering a spinal cord injury back in 1989, Nick became a Ventilator-dependant quadriplegic. The condition did not dampen his spirits, however, and Nick’s aunt, Sue Perry, nominated him earlier this month to be amongst 2007’s inductees for the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame.
This hall of fame was organized in 2005 by the National Spinal Cord Injury Association in order to celebrate those that have worked toward a better future for all individuals with a damaged spinal cord.
Sue stated that her nephew, Nick, has maintained a positive attitude and has a strong desire to help others. Since she is a nursing instructor at Nicolet Technical College in Rhinelander, Wis., Sue has had her nephew speak to her graduating classes about how to better understand disabled patients.
Nick said that he enjoys raising awareness about patients’ rights and perspectives.
“It’s so important for nurses to listen to newly injured patients about their feelings,” he said.
To illustrate his point, Nick often shares a story that he says portrays a typical visit for him and his family to a restaurant. Wait staff will commonly go around the table asking everyone else in his party what they would like to order, but when the waiter or waitress gets to Nick, he or she will often ask Nick’s mother what he would like to eat.
“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask him?” is her usual response, Nick said.
But its not just nurses or wait staff that could use a better understanding of those who have disabilities, he said. The general public doesn’t know how to react when they meet a handicapped person out on the street, which commonly leads to lots of staring and makes for an uncomfortable Environment.
Nick’s efforts to raise awareness have landed him a nomination in the Disability educator category of this year’s crop of contenders for the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame.
Also running in that category is celebrity Montel Williams, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and has used his syndicated talk shows and his own notoriety to boost MS awareness.
Nick commended Montel Williams for his work, but he added that the man’s celebrity status most likely means Nick doesn’t have a shot at hall of fame status this time around.
“There went that win,” he said and laughed.
Regardless of how that competition pans out, Nick does have another national venue where he has recently made a name for himself and secured a personal ‘win.’
As reported in the July 5, 2006, issue of the News-Shield, Nick has been restoring a 1968 Dodge Charger with the help of Muscle Car Restorations of Chippewa Falls, Wis. He expects to make his final payment next April and fully own the vehicle that has been a 16-year project.
He had stated last year that one of his goals for the car was for it to be featured in a nationally circulated hot rod magazine. That milestone has since come to pass.
Nick had high hopes in June 2006 for magazine coverage after attending the Car Craft Summer Nationals in St. Paul, Minn. While attending the car show that featured more than 4,000 vehicles, a reporter who spotted Nick’s display stopped to interview him about his hot rod.
About four or five months after the interview, Nick inquired to the reporter’s editor about when the feature would be published. He was told that the story had been pulled.
So having written that opportunity off, Nick was doubly surprised when he found out a few weeks ago that the story had finally been published more than a year after the original interview.
“I was in disbelief at first,” he said. “First thing I did was call my friend at Wal-Mart and have him go to the magazine rack and pick me up and issue.”
Sure enough, the November 2007 issue of Mopar Muscle had a two-page spread photograph of his prized Charger splashed across pages 94 and 95 with more pictures and story to follow.
Nick said the magazine feature definitely symbolized a goal achieved for him, but he hasn’t stopped dreaming yet.
“To top this one would be to actually make the cover of a magazine, which I believe is attainable,” he said.
And after that? Nick said that he’s not pushing for it actively, but another dream come true would be to have his purple ’68 Charger featured in a movie.
“That would immortalize the car,” he said.
©Barron News Shield 2007