Saanich man with degenerative disease inspires creativity through unique technology
SAANICH -- Ari is on a quest, driving his motorized wheelchair down the hallway. It begins with a battle against boredom.
“Not feeling bored would be my biggest challenge,” he says. “It feels very frustrating to be left out of activities that my friends can do and I can’t.”
Spinal muscular atrophy is progressively weakening all the muscles in his body. So Ari had to find a way to play video games without moving his hands.
“It was a challenge,” he says. “But I pushed through the challenge.”
Ari spent two years searching for solutions before discovering technology that allows him to control the action on screen with the movement of his breath.
“With the adaptive tech I can play almost any game out there as well as any able-bodied person,” Ari says. “And my friends can play with me!”
Using the screenname 'combodude,' Ari not only plays online, but also raises hundreds of dollars during gaming fundraisers in support of the BC Children’s Hospital.
“I’m giving back to a hospital where I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for their amazing support.”
While Ari’s pastime is playing games, his passion is composing music.
“I’m a creative person,” he says. “Music is something I can create myself.”
Using adaptive technology, the 31-year-old has written, performed and produced two albums of instrumental music and earned his Master certificate in film and TV composition from the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
He plays some of his compositions for me – they range from the subtle to the dynamic. More than one gives me goosebumps.
When I ask how he’d compose the soundtrack to his life, Ari smiles before explaining how it would be performed by a 60-piece orchestra.
“Starting with some minor sounds and some sadness,” he says. “But then it boosts up and rises above it all.”
It would rise to an epic crescendo worthy of Ari’s unrelenting quest to inspire.
“I hope I’m inspiring people to not give up,” he smiles. “To just give them joy.”