LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Danny Baird of Lowell has won state and national titles in dirt bike hill climb before, but that may be the least of his accomplishments.
“We raced all the time. I grew up racing. I like to ride dirt bikes, Motocross, hill climb, drag race. I just like to be on two wheels, really,” Baird, 29, said.
Due to a crash six years ago, there are another set of two wheels in Baird’s life: a wheelchair.
“We were riding around in a Yamaha Rhino (ATV), me and a couple friends. I wasn’t wearing a seat belt and I fell out and it landed on me. I knew right away something was wrong. I couldn’t feel anything,” Baird said.
That’s where Baird’s life story took a turn to all uphill. The crash left him with no feeling from his armpits down.
“Yeah, I’m a quadriplegic. I’m a C7 quadriplegic,” he said.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, C7 quadriplegia leaves patients with shoulder, elbow, wrist and some hand function, which Baird is taking advantage of. After all, the hill climb is his event.
Next weekend, he will compete in the adaptive snow bike class on the largest stage in the game: the X Games in Aspen, Colorado.
“It’s like full-throttle. It’s wide open. It’s like in-your-face type action,” he said.
Modifications to his bike and a cage have allowed Baird to keep riding.
“I compare it to riding a Harley Davidson Road King in the snow. It doesn’t handle like a dirt bike,” Baird said.
Because there hasn’t been snow at home in West Michigan, Baird has traveled to Minnesota to practice for what many in his sport consider the chance of a lifetime.
“Who doesn’t dream about it? I used to watch it all the time as a little kid. I never once actually thought I’d be in it,” Baird said.
Baird says he’s the only quadriplegic he knows who competes. He’s scheduled to race in the X Games on Jan. 26.