Disabled student uses education to enable others

Disabled student uses education to enable others
John Martinson

Twelve years ago, an accident left John Martinson paralyzed from the chest down. That day changed his life. What no one knew at the time was how many other lives would be changed as well.

Martinson, who has always enjoyed working with his hands, enrolled in the mechanical design program at Madison College. His goal was to learn the skills necessary to design equipment that could help other people with disabilities.

“That means a lot to me. I’ve always been a caring person and to see somebody get back to what they love to do and overcome their challenges, it is really inspiring,” Martinson said.

To date he has designed a trike motorcycle that allows an individual in a wheelchair to transfer to the motorcycle. His design also has a lift system that allows the wheelchair to be put onto the back of the motorcycle.

The 54-year-old has also designed equipment that allows individuals with disabilities to ice fish. For one of his projects he designed equipment that allows an individual with special needs to hunt or trap shoot.

His instructors at Madison College said Martinson’s focus on making a difference for others is evident in the classroom.

“When John came into the program he was like others, coming in to learn a skill and who knows where that would take him,” said Ron Olson, an instructor in the mechanical design program. “Over the course of time, getting to know John it became real apparent he was here to learn that skill to help others.”

Martinson said his dream job would be to work for Harley Davidson designing motorcycles for individuals with special needs. He will graduate from Madison College on Thursday.