License to independence

Irving man’s accomplishment is ‘amazing’

OBSERVER Photo Jacob Myers proudly shows off his newly received driver’s license.

Jacob Myers will never forget May 18. It was on that afternoon — in his third attempt — he passed his driver’s test.

“This is probably the greatest day of my life,” said the 21-year-old Irving resident.

What Myers did is something many of us take for granted. But his instructor, Bob Triscari, knows the enormity and significance of his accomplishment. “He said he’s been dreaming about this since he was 10,” he said on the day his student passed the test.

It was rewarding — and emotional. “I saw the tears in his eyes, and that’s what came to mine,” Triscari said when he saw Myers sign for his license.

Myers is not like the many others who get behind the wheel. He has spina bifida, a birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. When he is not driving a car, he is utilizing a wheelchair.

His spirit, however, is unbreakable. The upbeat young man talked about what the driver’s license means to him more than anything else: independence.

“I don’t have to rely on my mom anymore. … I can do whatever I want to do now,” he said. “I can go to the mall on my own. … This is amazing.”

Triscari, who owns a driving school in Jamestown and was hired through The Resource Center and the Adult Career and Continuing Education Services Vocational Rehabilitation, is just as proud of Myers. “He never blames anybody for any of his shortcomings,” the instructor said. “That’s why I felt like I’m more of a godfather to him than a friend. He accepts a lot that’s thrown at him.”

It was Triscari who alerted the OBSERVER to Myers’ feat. He continually praised his work, which took a little more than a year.

Myers uses a vehicle that allows him to brake and accelerate through hand controls, since he does not have the use of his legs. Besides Triscari, he credits his mother, Lisa Pierce of Irving, and James Myers Jr. of Silver Creek for being able to take the keys.

“They both never really gave up on me,” he said. “Both supported my ability to drive and had faith in me.”

Myers is hoping the ability to drive sets him back on his educational course. The 2016 Silver Creek graduate was attending Jamestown Community College and hopes to get into Erie Community College once he gets a new vehicle.

Triscari said the car is all he will need to purchase. The adaptive equipment Myers needs to drive will be donated.

“I’m just so proud of him,” Triscari said.

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