WAYZATA, Minn. - The familiar spring hum of a rider lawn mower had a familiar face at the controls on Friday.
Josh Scanlon, 21, is back at the family outdoor business nine years after an accident left him in a wheelchair.
Scanlon was a 12-year-old regional champion gymnast in 2004 when a living room accident severely damaged his spine and left him without the use of his legs.
After a painful recovery and months of public support from classmates, Olympic gymnasts and political figures like then President George W. Bush, Scanlon settled back into life with his parents, younger brother and sister.
Their home has been remodeled to accommodate Josh's changed physical abilities, mostly through the generosity of community fundraisers. Doorways were widened to allow passage of the wheelchair and everyday items were reset to be within his reach. His parents expressed amazement at their son's positive attitude and determination to carry on.
In 2010, while Josh was at Delano High School, his Courage Center wheelchair basketball team won three national championships. He continues to play the sport at Courage Center in Golden Valley on the adult team.
"It is a little more laid-back, but still fun" said Scanlon. "Actually, (my younger brother) Matt comes and plays sometimes with us."
After high school, Josh went off to college for Speech Communications.
"I went to Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall for a little bit. I played wheelchair basketball there for two years. I just did not like my major. So, came back home, decided to try something different."
He fully intends to return to school this fall.
"I am thinking Ridgewater (College in Hutchinson)," said Scanlon. "I want to do mechanical drawing there. So, do my two years and be done."
Meanwhile, Scanlon has found a way, without the use of his legs, to follow in the footsteps of his father, Eric, and grandfather, Donny. Josh and brother Matt, 17, have formed a branch of the Scanlon Tree Service (click here for their website) to do lawn care in the Lake Minnetonka area.
"We have been mowing lawns," smiled Josh. "Kind of a great summer gig."
"Most people would not think that someone in a wheelchair could do it," said Matt, "but, I mean, he does it."
Josh maneuvers around on a new Toro rider mower, while Matt handles the walking mower and weed wacker.
"Most brothers' fight," said Matt. "I mean, we love working with each other and we do it all day. We did it all last summer and that is why we wanted to do it more this summer."
Josh now lives in his own apartment in St. Bonifacius. Nine years after the 2004 accident, he is as energetic, determined and forward-looking as ever.