Top of the World

From Eric Barber’s perspective, life in a wheelchair is completely “normal.” A paraplegic since age 3, it’s really all he’s ever known — so there’s never been a reason for him to place any limits on himself. Armed with a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, he has achieved success as a Human Resources professional. Armed with a basketball, he has taken on the entire world – and often won.

Eric is a member of the Wisconsin Thunder, a Division 3 team of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. As a member of the U.S. Wheelchair Basketball team, he has received two World Championship gold medals and one bronze medal at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia. He also won a bronze medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. 

“Wheelchair basketball has allowed me to travel and experience places and people I would have never been able to encounter otherwise,” he says. “Through this sport, I have learned to be a leader, which has helped me a great deal, professionally.”

And just because he feels “normal,” that doesn’t mean he hasn’t faced obstacles or struggled with feeling out of his comfort zone from time to time.

“At most traditional workout facilities, I have felt out of place because of the lack of workout equipment or tight spaces provided to work out in,” he explains. “I am fortunate that I live in Whitewater, and have unlimited access to a suitable gym and workout facility. But this has not always been the case, and many are not as fortunate as I am.”

He supports The Ability Center because he wants to help fill that gap, and move toward giving every disabled athlete the opportunities he has enjoyed to play, compete, grow and succeed.

“As an individual growing up with a disability, I remember aspiring to be a Paralympic athlete. I remember spending hours at an outdoor basketball court, even in bad weather. Having a facility like The Ability Center will give other aspiring athletes a home to reach their goals. It will give communities a common place to grow and improve.”