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Paralyzed man rides down highway in open air for 50th birthday road trip

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A former drag racing champion reaches a milestone he thought he'd never live to see.

Rick Davidson suffered a near-fatal accident that left him bound to a wheelchair. But as FOX 4's photojournalist Jon Haiduk found out, Davidson isn't letting anything hold him back.

"We've always been into hot rods, even before we could drive. 1987 he actually won a world championship, super street," friend Kevin Barnes said. "He'd just turned 21, and a freak accident. Slid under a parked pickup truck. Exploded [vertebra] C3 in the back of his neck. Basically left him paralyzed. He can't even breath on his own; he's on a ventilator."

"I wasn't expected by the doctors to live past a year on a ventilator," Davidson said.

"I can't say that he never got down, but he chose to see what he could do to add to the world around himself and help others out," his friend said. "He actually started a [not-for-profit] called Positive Changes and it helps other people ... with disabilities stay in their homes."

"I'm enjoying what I do. Helping others makes it worth getting up every day," Davidson said.

"The trailer came about because Rick wanted to get on a motorcycle again, and I was scared to death of that, and so I looked into available options and somebody came up with the idea, 'Why don't we build a trailer?' and a big light bulb went off. Why don't we build a trailer? And it's just worked fabulously," Barnes said.

While he continues to defy doctors' expectations, this year was a special milestone for Davidson and his friends.

"What's special to me about this year is Rick's actually made it to turning 50 this year. He loves drag racing, and he loves the show "Street Outlaws" and we're going to watch them race," Barnes said.

And to get there, Rick's riding out in the open air.

"Some people think, 'What are you doing to this poor handicapped guy?' but the majority, we get a lot of thumbs up, and I think people are real happy that we're getting somebody to do something . I think Rick made the best statement that I'd ever heard, when he said, 'When people see me going down the road on this trailer,' he said, 'I wonder if they see me as abled or disabled,' and I just responded, 'Most definitely abled.'"

Davidson and Barnes will end their celebration down in Oklahoma City.