4 Wheel City Strives to Inspire Awareness at James Madison
by Brennan Maupin and Sarah Humphreys
Disability Awareness Week kicked off in style with the 4 Wheel City show in the Wilson Auditorium. As Namel "Tapwaterz" Norris and Ricardo "Rickfire" Velasquez rolled on to the stage, along with hype man El Gunna, the audience broke out in raucous applause. Tapwaterz and Rickfire are both in wheelchairs due to gun violence. The duo pumped up the crowd with songs highlighting equality, empowerment, and acceptance for people with disabilities.
The duo pumped up the crowd with songs highlighting equality, empowerment, and acceptance for people with disabilities.
“When I say FOUR WHEEL, you say CITY. FOUR WHEEL—” prompted the duo. The crowd responded enthusiastically: “CITY!” 4 Wheel City’s message focused on four tenants: “Inspire, educate, advocate, and entertain.” The group raised a four finger salute that the audience reciprocated.
4 Wheel City’s message focused on four tenants: "Inspire, educate, advocate, and entertain."
Part way through the show, the music became more serious. The songs told the stories of how they became disabled and in wheel chairs. Tapwaterz was accidently shot by his cousin and Rickfire was shot on his way home from high school.
Most of 4 Wheel City’s songs focused on describing the challenges of life in a wheelchair. Some were funny, like “I fell in love (with my home attendant),” while many, like “Survival Story” told about the painful but powerful experience of coming to accept their disability and use it as a source of empowerment. With every song, 4 Wheel City reminded the audience to Never Give Up.
Out in the audience, people grooved to the beats; even the sign language interpreter was getting into it, dancing with the music as she signed. After the show, I heard people talking, saying, “Bring them back,” “DO THIS AGAIN!,” and “I loved this program.”