Local News

Garner Child Gets Go-Kart, And A Taste Of Independence

Posted May 13, 2001 2:59 a.m. EDT

— Remember the freedom you felt the first time you got behind the wheel of your own car? A little boy in Garner got his first set of wheels Saturday, thanks to the ingenuity of a Obie Sullivan, a bio-medical engineering major at NC State.

Three year old Jordan Maddox has Spina Bifida, a birth defect that left his legs paralyzed. Today, for the first time, Jordan is getting behind the wheel of a go-kart Sullivan built just for him.

"I never thought this day would come, that he'd be driving a car on his own," says his mother.

So what does Jordan think of his new wheels?

"I like it!" he says.

Jordan's steering skills need a little work, but he has already learned how to hit the brakes and put his go-kart into reverse

Sullivan built the go-kart for his senior project, using donated parts and a frame from a larger go-kart.

"It was bigger, so I decided to cut it down smaller for Jordan, and just put different handlebars on it, and put a thumb-throttle on it," says Sullivan.

Jordan used to watch from his wheelchair or a stroller while his brothers rode their bikes. Now that he has a new set of wheels, his brothers are trying to keep up with him.

"It makes us happy to see a smile on his face, he's independent now, he can get out on his own and that makes us feel really good," says his mother.

Sullivan has as much fun watching as Jordan does driving. What started as a school project has developed into a lasting friendship.

"It makes me feel great to see him be able to move around and get around on his own. He smiles all the time and he loves driving it," says Sullivan.

The go-kart was built to give Jordan plenty of room to grow. He can also adjust the restrictor plate later, so he can drive a little faster.