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The Creation of [dis]ABLE

An excerpt from I Hate You Jimmy

"When I started looking for a job after college—despite an immaculate background, transcript, and experience—I realized I was being seen for my wheelchair and not my resume. After securing a job as a market analyst at a major insurance company in Philadelphia, I started the brand as a project on the side, coupling my passion for fashion with my mission to change the connotations of the word “disable.” Messing around on a notepad one day, I came up with the logo, put it on a shirt and then social media, and the response was overwhelming.”

At least, that is the story Jimmy tells the people he meets at events, and the people interviewing him for the paper, and the anchors talking to him on television. It’s what he puts on advertisements and in the “about” sections of social media. It’s not a falsehood by any means—that story is entirely true. The part that is left out, however, is the tipping point that drove Jimmy to actually create his brand.

I know this may seem cliché, but the reason Jimmy created [dis]ABLE was because of a broken heart.

I found out about it one night when I walked into his apartment before we headed to a 76ers game.

“What the hell is that?” I asked, pointing to a giant framed poster with the [dis]ABLE logo on it.

“It’s my brand,” Jimmy said. He loved to downplay major events.

“Your what?

“My brand.”

“Do people do that? I didn’t know that was a thing.”

“Shut up. Look.” He pointed to a little flyer he made. As I started to read it to myself, Jimmy yelled, “Eddie!”

“You vain bastard.” I should have known better—Jimmy loves nothing more than to hear his own writing read aloud.

“DISABLE is defined as ‘to deprive of capability or effectiveness,’ however, having lived with a physical difference, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) type 2 (a form of Muscular Dystrophy) for my entire life, I know this to be grossly inaccurate. Everyone has limitations. So if you believe those who are ‘disabled’ are just people who need to achieve personal greatness differently, you can support the brand by purchasing some of its fashionable apparel at disablethebrand.com. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.”

I looked at his couch, covered in [dis]ABLE t-shirts, towels, and even a onesie made for his baby nephew.

“Grab one,” he said. “You get the first.”

The thing about Jimmy is that he the embodiment of that Nike slogan, “Just do it.” The guy puts himself out there, and doesn’t care. This was something he wanted to do, and he did it. That attitude is special, and I felt lucky to be around someone like that. And since he was such a good friend, I most certainly couldn’t tell him that. “Great,” I said, grabbing a shirt. “And here I thought my wardrobe couldn’t get any worse.”

As always, Jimmy demanded a picture, and I suggested that since we were heading to the subway for the game anyway, we take one on our way there. When we got to Broad Street, we asked a group of girls if one of them would take our picture with City Hall in the background. The one who said yes shared with us that it was her 18th birthday, and I told her she is lucky because on the day she became a legal person she gets to meet the founder and creator of [dis]ABLE the Brand. I told her the brand was going to be a big deal, and someday she would find Jimmy and tell him she was the one who took that first picture.

In my defense of such an extraordinary claim—my thinking was that it’s not every day you turn 18 and take a picture of two guys wearing matching shirts in the middle of Broad Street during rush hour, one of them in a wheelchair.

To read the rest of this chapter, and for more stories like it, order your copy of "I Hate You Jimmy" today!

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