Inspirational amputee picks up off-road van in Claycomo for a long road trip with a message

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CLAYCOMO, Mo. -- Think of it as a cross-country road trip with a message.

An Arizona man, who's spent the past week in the metro, will soon make a long journey. It's meant to uplift people who've lost their limbs.

The loss of his right leg is no longer the end of Lance Blair's world, and he wants to give other amputees that same energy. Workers at the Ford Assembly Plant in Claycomo have finished a special Ford Transit van for Blair, who works as a nurse in Phoenix.

Blair and his family operate Peg Leg Garage in Arizona, where they build vehicles that compete in off-road auto races. Blair wants to use his van, which he got the keys for on Thursday, as a chase car and specialized van, that will enable other disabled people to drive in those motorsports events.

"You can`t sew the leg back on. You can`t sew the arm back on," Blair said. "Life goes on."

Blair, who is about to turn 50, will never forget December 1988, when a drunk driver hit him while riding his motorcycle. Blair purchased the van from a Ford dealer in Buckner, Missouri. He said it cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $90,000.

"I was now 'one-leg Lance,' and I embrace that. It`s how people know me," Blair said. "I want every amputee or anyone with a physical disability to know they will struggle. They will fail. But it`s going to be worth it in the end."

Assembly line workers who built it were in support of his effort to inspire others, and to display the new van at the SEMA Auto Parts Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Blair's journey in that new van will begin with a 4,000-mile tour, and he won't be alone.

Kansas native David Fernandez, a videographer who answered Blair's ad on Craigslist, will ride along with Blair. He'll be creating a series of of online video pieces called "Building a Leg, Building a Van," which are meant to inspire people who've lost their limbs.

"He`s shown me how to be positive through his experiences in life. It`s kind of shown me that things happen. You have to get up and keep going," Fernandez said.

Blair's journey will take most of a month, and he'll drive the final stretch on off-road paths, leading him into Las Vegas on dirt roads, for the most part.

He said he believes he has to prove what the van can do before he can convince others to blaze their own trails.

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