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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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Lisa Location: New Windsor, NY on Nov 9, 2010 at 03:58 PM
    Hi Joey! So good to see you and hear how wonderful you are doing! Thank you for clarifying Melanie's statement. We all miss him so dearly and wish he was here to see what a wonderful man you have become, as your father he would be so proud! Much love, good fortune, good health, and happiness to you always! Love, Your sister Lisa (Rapisardo/Mackey)
  • by Lisa Location: New Windsor, NY on Nov 9, 2010 at 03:52 PM
    Joey I am hear with our cousin Mary, she says you look just like your handsome father! She had the best laughs with him. He was very special just like you. She says to continue your good work and God Bless you! Love and Prayers, Cousin Mary (Nicotra/Abbruscato)
  • by Jennie Location: Middletwon NY on Oct 21, 2010 at 04:57 PM
    This is a truely wonderful story, i knew your dad and mom. i grew up in chester . He was a hard worker , full of energy and had a great sense of humor. You are very much like him. Best of luck in your career and in all you do. If you're ever in good old chester ny we would love to see you . please say hello to your mom for me . Congrats on your job and this beautiful article about you. Best regards,Jennie(Contorino)
  • by Joseph Location: Tallahassee on Oct 18, 2010 at 07:58 PM
    My father did pass away when I was four. I have lived with my stepfather and my mother all my life.
  • by Melanie Location: GA on Oct 17, 2010 at 09:13 PM
    Um Joe Torrisi, his Dad is not dead. :) And Joey is pretty cool.
  • by Anonymous Location: USA on Oct 15, 2010 at 06:53 PM
    What a great guy! He puts the "ability" in disability. How did he ever land at Vocational Rehabilitation? I bet there's an interesting story behind it all.
  • by Uncle Bud & Aunt Rink Location: Sweet Valley,Pa. on Oct 15, 2010 at 09:28 AM
    WE have known Joey since birth, we watched him grow into the man he is today. It was a tough road to the top, but he never gave up. His mother & Aunt Rink were there to help & encourage him. He was always on thr go, he loved sport but it was difficult for him. But one think he did well was Bowel, Boy did he beat me, some times very bad. I will never forget when I had cancer how you encouraged me, We can not thank you enough for sharing this is your life with us, it has impacted us so much we love you & pray for you often, Aunt Rink& Uncle Bud
  • by Ida LaSpina Smith Location: New Jersey on Oct 15, 2010 at 04:44 AM
    I grew up with his dad and Aunt Verna in Chester, NY. Our families were very close. I knew Joe when he was younger and I am thrilled he is doing so great!! Go Bless Him...
  • by JOE TORRISI on Oct 15, 2010 at 02:16 AM
    I WAS BEST FRIENDS WITH HIS FATHER WHO DIED SOON AFTER JOEY WAS BORN. I NEVER GOT TO MEET JOEY BUT READING THIS ARTICLE MADE ME FEEL GREAT. HE COMES FROM A FAMILY OF HARD WORKERS. AND I'M SO HAPPY HE IS DOING GOOD. JOEY IF YOU ARE EVER IN NEW YORK PLEASE LOOK ME UP. I WOULD LOVE TO MEET YOU AND TELL YOU SOME GOOD STORIES. JOE TORRISI
  • by Sandy Location: Winter Garden Fl on Oct 14, 2010 at 12:34 PM
    All I can say is I love Joey hes a true inspiration . I have been threw thick and thin with him. We were a team no one could beat in the old days in Homestead:-)
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