Handicapable805 works to change views on disabilities

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Marissa Jimenez

Matthew Alcantar hopes to establish Handicapable805 as a non-profit to create an accessible gym for disabled individuals, Thursday, April 16, at City College’s Winslow-Maxwell Overlook on East Campus. While enrolled in Personal Development 110, Alcantar was inspired by fellow classmates to design a logo for t-shirts and later began his business with support from Jana Garnett, the director of Disabled Students Programs and Services.

SAVANNA MESCH, Features Editor

With his contagious charisma and enthusiasm, Matthew Alcantar hopes to change the way people view invisible disabilities.

A car accident in 2004 left Alcantar with a neck injury that has guided the course of his life the past 11 years. He is now in the beginning stages of establishing a nonprofit named Handicapable805.

Alcantar takes pride in the term handicapable.

“We are very useful, very capable people who are always able to do things,” he said.

His injury is not noticeable to a passerby, but his tattoos tell a story of tenacity and strength.

Inked on his skin are the names of his son and fiancée, “T.C.B.,” which stands for taking care of business, “pain” on his neck, and a handicap-parking placard with the words handicapable on his leg.

After the accident, Alcantar had to forget about his plans to join the Marine Corps and worked odd jobs until he enrolled in City College in 2014. That fall, he took Personal Development 110 with student entrepreneurs who gave him the idea to design a logo and print them on t-shirts to sell.

The design on his shirt incorporates all four disabilities: cognitive, physical, hearing and visual.

Alcantar sells the shirts for $20, but only half of the profits are given back to the company. He donates the other half to the Special Olympics and Disabled American Veterans.

He said there is not a facility in the area with adaptive equipment and a focus on massage therapy, something that has helped him heal from his injury. Seeking a solution, Alcantar is making plans to renovate an already existing gym to make it accessible and affordable for disabled individuals.

“I want it to be low-cost or insurance covered and I want to have transportation for the community so they can get the ride there, get whatever necessary physical therapy they need to get back to wherever they came from,” he said. “That’s big for me.”

He was inspired by an episode of “CNN Heroes” that featured Ned Norton from Warriors on Wheels, a nonprofit in New York designed to provide strength and conditioning to people with disabilities.

Alcantar began his business with support from Jana Garnett, the director of disabled students programs and services.

“There needs to be a larger campaign of educating the public about invisible disabilities so we can reduce the stigma and the misperception and the judgments that go with it,” Garnett said. “He is the most wonderful representative of a person with an invisible disability.”

Despite having a broken neck and undergoing six surgeries before the age of 31, Alcantar recently rode 25 miles on his 10-speed bicycle.

“When I got hurt, I didn’t think I was capable of doing anything ever again,” he said. “I was afraid of what I was going to do by injuring my neck and I started getting stronger and healthier and now I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Pinned to a wall inside the Disabled Student Programs and Services office is a sticker that reads, “Attitude is the real disability.”

When referring to the pain in his neck, Alcantar said, “It hurts, but I’m okay. It’s that mind over matter thing. If it doesn’t bother your mind, it shouldn’t matter.”

He has met with city planners, viewed commercial buildings and is speaking with investors but is asking for help from City College students. He is looking for interns and volunteers to help with social media, marketing and networking.

“I’ve done almost all of this on my own and it’s time for the help,” he said.