Local man working to build a one-of-a-kind Ability Center
WAUWATOSA - The Ability Center is the brainchild of Damian Buchman, a Wauwatosa man who beat bone cancer more than 20 years ago.
The Ability Center will be a place where people with and without disabilities will be able to work out together. Damian came up with the idea for the center about 4 years ago. He explains, "90% of the battle I believe when it comes to fitness and athletics and working is comfort--'I feel wanted, welcome, comfortable. I belong here. I'm not a burden here, I'm not in the way here.'"
Damian can relate to that feeling. He's had 32 total surgeries, 22 on his legs alone.
We first started following Damian's story in the 1990's. Many experts call him a 'one in a billion' cancer survivor. He explains, "The likelihood of getting childhood bone cancer to start with, and to happen in both your knees, then on top of to survive that, and still have your legs. Do all the math and the unlikelihood of all that--you're at about one in a billion."
His knees are a combination of plastic and metal, and every step still hurts to this day, but at least he can walk.
"I'm very lucky and very blessed," Damian says.
So he can relate to disabled athletes, and he's determined to make The Ability Center a reality.
"I realized there's three things I know. I don't know how to quit, I don't know how to lose, and I don't know really the meaning of impossible," Damian says.
Several local architecture firms, donors, and volunteers are working on the project with Damian, but his number one supporter is his wife Bo. Damian explains, "We work well because we support one another's dreams, we support one another's visions and hopes and goals."
As if this young couple wasn't busy enough, they also recently added to their family! Damian and Bo adopted Jackson a year and a half ago. They look forward to the day Jackson can see The Ability Center break ground, and open its doors to everybody.
The estimated cost to build the center is $40-million. You can donate online. Construction on the ability center could begin in the next couple years if the fundraising campaign is successful. They are still working on finding the best site for the complex.