I don’t listen to people too much when they tell me I can’t do something. There’s not a whole lot that’s going to stand in my way. —Richie Parker
While he was born with no arms, Richie Parker, a chassis and body component designer for Hendrick Motorsports, doesn’t let excuses hinder him from achieving excellence.
“Every step of the way in life there have been people who said I can’t do things — said I couldn’t ride a bicycle, there have been people who said I couldn’t live on my own, couldn’t get a good job and support myself, or I couldn’t go to college and graduate,” Parker said in an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “I don’t listen to people too much when they tell me I can’t do something. There’s not a whole lot that’s going to stand in my way.”
Parker's birth defect is called bilateral amelia. His parents wanted him to live as normal a childhood as possible, and his independence and ingenuity allowed him to do so, according to ESPN.com.
“There were always things around the house that made it so I didn’t have to ask someone else for help to do it, and that was always important to me,” Parker said. “I had two parents who from day one tried to make it so that my life was ... as normal as possible, whatever normal is.”
Despite limitations some people expected Parker would face, he pursued his passion for cars and landed a job at Hendrick Motorsports, which “has earned a record 10 car owner championships in NASCAR’s premier division, the Sprint Cup Series,” according to hendrickmotorsports.com.
“I think I had about 20 resumes I went through before I settled on Richie’s. I knew he could do the things I needed him to do, it was more a question of how,” said Rex Stump, Hendrick engineering manager, in the ESPN clip. “We sat down and he showed me how he works on the computer and how he does his design work. I write with my right hand, your write with your left hand, he happens to write with his feet.”
Parker’s internship with Hendricks was initially set at 10 months. But as Rinaldi said in the clip, “Eight years and five championships later, he’s still here.”
The positive outlook and gumption Parker has inspires others.
“I went to college with this guy,” wrote commenter CallipysousD on autoblog.com. “Seems like he could find a way to do anything. I remember walking by and seeing him in a fly fishing class. That's some pretty incredible stuff.”
Parker’s attitude allows him to take on new challenges, rather than limit his abilities.
“I can’t say that there’s anything that I can’t do,” Parker said. “I don’t know if there’s a whole lot in life period that I can say that I can’t do — just things that I haven’t done yet.”