WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) - Winchester native Rob Pedigo was among a small group of disabled Americans chosen to pay their respects to former President George H. W. Bush as he lay in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda Tuesday.
In 1998, Pedigo's senior year of high school, a car accident changed his life forever.
"I was immediately paralyzed. T2 paraplegic, basically chest down," Pedigo said.
Complications stemming from his condition also left Pedigo with poor eyesight.
He told WKYT he'd hate to think what his life would be like without the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law by President Bush July 26, 1990.
The law bans discrimination based on disability and requires certain public physical accommodations.
"It's changed my life," Pedigo said. "It's changed the life that I'm able to have today with my wife and my little boy. We're able to do things and be places that we never thought we'd be able to be."
Pedigo works as a fundraising coordinator for STRIDE, a Winchester nonprofit that uses "therapeutic recreation" to improve the lives of people with disabilities or mental illnesses.
Pedigo made the trip to Washington, D.C. with his wife, Jessica, and 7-year-old son, R.J., calling it "the opportunity of a lifetime."
Pedigo's family even got to spend some time with Bush's beloved service dog, Sully. He said the president, who was wheelchair-bound himself late in life, continues to be an inspiration.
"It's mind over matter a lot of the times. People in my situation, it's not always the physical things that go away are the worst. It's when you lose your spirit and lose your kindness and your love, and that's something I'll take from him that I'll never try to lose," Pedigo said.