Gene is an athlete and a mechanical designer. He designs a variety of products, such as medical devices and adaptive equipment. This type of work demands a great deal of critical thinking — managing budgetary, technical and timeline restrictions behind each unique product design. He was drawn to hi profession from hanging around his dad, who taught mechanics at a high school.
“As I grew up, it seemed like my dad could fix anything that was broken,” Gene says, “He would get stuff donated to his class, so we were always surrounded by broken lawnmowers and snowblowers.”
To get outdoors in the warmer months Gene uses a handcycle, which is similar to a recumbent bicycle but with three wheels and a hand crank instead of pedals. While the handcycle has its limitations compared to a traditional bicycle, Gene says it's better than other options.
"It's one of the few solo sports I can do as a paraplegic,” he explains. "I used to race wheelchairs, but the versatility of the handcycle can get me more places. I can ‘explore' more.”
In the winter, he skis — both downhill and cross-country — as much as possible. He started skiing when he was 10 years old, but stopped in the years following his accident. Then he tried sit-skiing.The first day he was truly comfortable sit-skiing highlighted how much he missed it.
"I was on the hill, it was snowing, and I stopped on a run. There was no one within ear shot. I could hear the trees creaking in the wind. It felt peaceful— like I was suppose to be there.”