A man who lost both his legs to diabetes is putting his future in commercial truck driving.
Joseph Schafer, 44, of Bangor, Pennsylvania, got tired of watching his family struggle to pay the bills. He had been out of work for 6 years. Despite his social security checks, his wife’s income as a CVS pharmacist technician, and the money his kids were making, it just wasn’t cutting it.
Schafer has been through his share of hard times but always found ways to persevere. When he had his first leg amputated in October 2007, it didn’t deter him from continuing to work as a tow truck driver in New Jersey. But a year later, when he lost his remaining leg, he and his family moved to Leigh Valley to seek better medical treatment. There, he found it hard to find full-time work.
“No body would touch me because I don’t’ have legs,” he told The Morning Call.
He decided to do something about it and look into further education. At first he considered welding, but that didn’t make any sense to him.
“Why would I do that? I’m a driver,” he said.
So he enrolled in a local commercial truck driving program at North Hampton Community College and worked his way through the 6- week course. The 240 hour course includes some classroom work, but most time is spent on the road.
Tina Frindt, director of the driver training program, said the school has had about four other amputees complete the course.
The course didn’t come without difficulties. Rising at 1:00 a.m. to help his daughter with her job delivering newspapers, he would only get a few hours of sleep before heading to class. After spending eight hours in the classroom, he would come home and do it again the next day.
Yet the long hours and his disability didn’t deter him from graduating and he’s already landed a job!
Of the numerous resumes he sent out, Western Express hired him on as a driver.
Schafer, who uses prosthetic legs, received a doctor’s waiver for his diabetes and obtained a skill performance evaluation from the state.
The new job leaves him with concerns about being gone during the 2 weeks of training. His wife, 28-year-old stepdaughter and 16-year old son will he home while he’s away, but it will be worth it, he said, with his first few paychecks during his orientation time around $375 a week.
“The thought of how much money I’ll be making now compared to my Social Security checks, well, I’m OK sitting in a truck,” he said.
Best of luck to you, driver!