‘There’s nowhere I feel more comfortable’ — Quadriplegic man still riding dirt bikes competitively

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LOWELL, Mich. -- A man in Lowell is back doing the very thing that almost took his life.

It was four-and-a-half years ago that Danny Baird was nearly killed in a dirt biking accident. Despite being left with life-changing injuries, he's not letting it stop him from doing what he loves.

Baird, 28, is paralyzed from the armpits down. Now, he is back doing the very thing that put him in a wheelchair and nothing's holding him back.

"My dad got me on a three-wheeler when I was like 3 years old and then I moved up to a little PW-50," said Baird. "I started racing when I was four."

He hasn't looked back since.

"I do it all," said Baird. "I drag race, I motocross, I hill climb."

Watching him ride, you would never guess that Baird is paralyzed.

"I remember laying there and instantly I knew what was up," said Baird. "I couldn't feel my feet."

In 2012, Baird was in a motorcycle crash. His bike ended up falling on top of him, leaving him paralyzed from his armpits down with limited feeling in his arms.

"I'm not sure what they call it, a complete spinal cord injury or something?" said Baird. "Like I said, I don't even know. I don't even really care what they call it. I am what I am and I just make the most of it."

It would normally be a career-ending injury.

"Doctors told me all sorts of stuff that I wouldn't be able to do," said Baird. "Pretty much that I wouldn't be able to live."

It wouldn't be career-ending for Baird.

"I like riding my bike," said Baird. "I don't want a desk job."

After 4-and-a-half years, Baird got back on his bike for the first time in April.

"It was weird because even though it's been like 4-and-a-half years, my body still remembers everything that you should do, like seat bouncing when you jump," said Baird. "I just have to figure out how to do it differently."

Differently is an understatement. His bike has seat belts to strap him in and a cage around his legs.

"Motocross is like the most physically demanding sport in the world," said Baird. "You use every muscle in your body. It's really hard, but it seems like I'm figuring out how to do it the more practice I get."

Baird seems to have it figured out. He's taken part in numerous competitions, just recently getting back from Sturgis, South Dakota.

"I got second place in the four stroke class," said Baird. "That's a hell of an achievement for me."

What's more of an achievement is getting back on the very thing that almost took his life.

"This scares me so much I like it," said Baird. "You know that feeling you get when you go on a roller coaster like you get in your stomach? Well I can't feel anything below my armpits, but I can still feel that feeling like when I'm flying."

As for what's next for Baird, he says he's just rolling with it.

"I feel comfortable when I'm on my bike," said Baird. "As scary and as many bad things can happy I still feel like I'm in control somehow. There's nowhere I feel more comfortable."

Baird is the first quadriplegic to compete in motocross.

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1 Comment

  • dave korte

    He was injured in a Yamaha Rhino 4×4, not a dirt bike. He is also not the first to compete, but maybe the first in Michigan.

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