Joe Rapisardo is Someone You Should Know

By: Lee Gordon Email
By: Lee Gordon Email

The phrase "living with a disability" is no longer acceptable. These days, folks talk only of abilities and the opportunities that lie before them.

One Tallahassee man has fought the odds and with a little help from his friends, is becoming a superstar in vocational rehab.

Joe Rapisardo always wanted to help people. His dream at first was to be an orthopedic surgeon. That dream led him to vocational rehabilitation where he currently works as a VR Technician in Tallahassee, assisting counselors and communicating with doctors. It's a job that fit him perfectly.

"I asked him why VR, and he said I like helping people," said Vocational Rehab Consultant Ruhnetta Fennell, "He said, with his disability, people have always helped him. That was a good answer."

That answer got Joe the job. A degree in rehab counseling from Florida State didn't hurt either. Neither did his ability to emphasize with some of the folks that he works with on a daily basis.

"I'm missing the fibula in each leg," said Joe Rapisardo, "In 6th grade, I had my leg amputated. In 12th grade I had the other one amputated."

These days, Joe wears prosthetic legs and you'd never know. His work ethic is like none other and his energy is contagious. He's one of a rare breed that comes to work happy and leaves happy.

"I have my own office. This is totally new to me, I love it."

When he isn't working, he's cheering for the 'Noles and his beloved Dallas Cowboys. His supervisor Suzanne Bradley says Joe is proud to be self-sufficient, working a full time job and paying his own way. And he doesn't want anyone feeling sorry for him.

"I have a prosthetic leg-so be it. I'm still functional, I have a brain. It's not something I say, hello, how are you. I have no leg kinda thing."

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