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Salisbury Center man hits 50,000 miles on ATV; helps people every mile along the way

A disabled man uses his ATV to get everywhere he needs to go and along the way, he helps others one mile at a time.

Posted: Aug. 20, 2018 9:14 AM
Updated: Aug. 20, 2018 2:32 PM

Salisbury Center, N.Y. - For much of his younger life, 79-year-old Ronald Barnes was a scuba diver, until 1990 when he was diving off of Long Island and came up too quickly. He ended up getting what's known as "the Bends."

"People just get it a little bit then they get better, it's called the Bends, decompression syndrome," Barnes said.

For Ronnie, as friends call him, it was too late to get him to a recompression chamber, so he has had permanent damage to his legs for the past 28 years.

The only way he gets around is by his 1985 Suzuki ATV. He just turned 50,000 miles on it.

"You cannot tell me anybody else that has 50,000 on an ATV," he said.

It's a milestone he is very proud of.

"I get on this, I don't feel like 79, I feel like a kid. I enjoy except for the bumps, you feel it."

Ronnie says the ATV takes him everywhere he needs to go and along his way, he collects cans. He's also known as The Can Man. So many people in this part of Herkimer County who see him on his ATV donate empty cans to him, not to help him live, but to help him give. Every nickel he collects, he donates to the St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

At 79, Ronnie lives alone and wants to maintain his independence, as he struggles to walk himself and his wheelchair up and down his ramp each day to get to his ATV.

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