Cross-country paraplegic aims to inspire others - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Cross-country paraplegic aims to inspire others

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AMARILLO - A man with a mission to inspire made a stop in Amarillo Sunday. He's already rolled about 1,200 miles in his wheelchair and he's not stopping until New York City.

Gabriel Cordell lost his ability to walk when he was hit by a car in New York, and now,20 years later, he says he knows why.

"What happened to me was an accident, but it wasn't by accident," Cordell said.

It's been a tough road for Cordell; paralyzed from the waist down since the age of 22 and, until 11 months ago, a drug addict.

"I used crystal meth and cocaine hardcore for 6 years," Cordell said.

When Cordell quit cold turkey last year, he started putting his energy into training for a cross-country mission to inspire others in a way that's never been done; traveling across the country in a standard, every-day wheelchair.

"What I'm doing is rolling 3,000 miles away from my old life and into my future," Cordell said.

His message to the disabled, the addicts, and everyone else is that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

A documentary film crew of seven is on the journey with him; some following along on bike, some in an RV with the equipment, and some in a car.

"He's averaging between 30 and 40 miles a day sometimes," Roll With Me Producer and Director Lisa France said.

France is a Los Angeles feature film producer and director, but says she couldn't turn Cordell's documentary story down, even though he was several minutes late to their first meeting.

"He was like 'I couldn't find a parking spot,' and I was sitting right in front a handicap spot, and I said 'well there's one right there.' And he just said 'that's for people who need those,'" France said.

The film, Roll With Me, doesn't have the all the money it needs right now, but Cordell says if it's meant to happen, it will. And if not, those he's already inspired along the way make everything worthwhile.

"If you asked me 'would you change your life to be able to walk again,' I'd say unequivocally, without a doubt, no. Because the effect I'm having on people is so much more than the walking could ever give me," Cordell said.

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