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Just A Normal Dude In a Chair: Bryan Ibarra

Published: 12/24/2019



As a Customer Service Representative with the Riverside Public Utilities Customer Resource Center, Bryan Ibarra serves the community with his friendly disposition and helpful attitude. Like many people his age, he enjoys spending time with his wife, off-roading, camping and hanging with his friends; the only difference is he does it all in a wheelchair.

Three years ago, a motorcycle accident changed his life forever. After his brakes malfunctioned, Bryan was thrown from his motorcycle 48 feet in the air. Had he not landed next to a stranger, he may not be here to tell his story. “He saved my life,” Bryan says. “I remember him using my phone to call for help, then he put it on my chest and left.”

The accident resulted in a T4 spinal cord injury, leaving Bryan paralyzed from his chest down. He was forced to adapt and re-learn how to do every-day tasks. Through his recovery process, Bryan met a man that would put his new normal into perspective.

“That day I was really messed up, and he was just staring at me.” After a short introduction, the gentleman approached Bryan and pointed out that he still had the use of his hands and the ability to do things for himself, which many others do not, then he proceeded to remind Bryan to focus on the good, to put his life in perspective.

“After that, I will never complain; that opened me and I thought I’m not done,” Bryan explained. He has worked tirelessly to maneuver his way around a world that is not always

designed to be accessible for his wheelchair. After all, resourcefulness and perseverance were not foreign to him.

Bryan began his journey with the City of Riverside as a RESET employee. (RESET is a City sponsored program that assists young adults in achieving their education, civic, personal, and social development as responsible individuals and community members through temporary full-time employment for a period of 12 to 18 months.) He returned to work after the accident as a 311 call center employee and ultimately settled in to the new Customer Resource Center.

Due to his determination to continue to enjoy his life and daily activities the same way he did before the accident, Bryan still participates in the things he loves to do which includes sky diving, modifying his truck to go off-roading and taking part in the Possibilities 5k. “I still live my normal life, I’m just a normal dude in a chair, and I keep it real,” he says.

While Bryan is confident in his ability to figure out how to solve problems and muscle through situations that arise from lack of accessibility, he does worry for those in the community who may not be physically able to do so and acknowledges there are many benefits to more awareness in the community for those with disabilities.

“People don’t go out because they don’t know things are accessible,” he says. “It can be a rushed life because you always have to think ahead of everything you do. Everything is planned out.”


Find more stories about the City of Riverside in the latest edition of Explore Magazine




Heavy doors can be difficult to open for a person in a wheelchair. Doors must be 10 LBS OR LIGHTER to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and positioned within a large space where a person in a wheelchair can maneuver with ease.


When driving and making a right turn, drivers should avoid blocking the ramps on the sidewalk. People in wheelchairs cannot go around and must wait for drivers to finish their turn.


Large, well lit, and ADA compliant restroom facilities can be hard to find. People with disabilities often have to travel away from their destinations to find adequate facilities.

meeting icon MEETING ROOMS

During meetings, leaving an empty space at the table near the door can make it easier for a person in a wheelchair to join without feeling excluded.


Waiting areas should include a space where a person can wait comfortably in their wheelchair and not feel isolated or in the way.

no icon JUDGMENT

Disabilities do not look the same on everyone. When in doubt avoid staring or unnecessary commentary.


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