Quadriplegic paints with mouth to honor healthcare workers’ dedication during the pandemic

Connecticut Families

MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – – “They’re sitting on the world,” said Ryan Rosario, describing his painting called ‘You Are the Light.’ “He’s slouched over because he’s tired. God is shining his light on them, pretty much saying, ‘a light is coming soon.'”

The work of art is a gift for healthcare workers, fighting a pandemic. And, amazingly, Rosario, a quadriplegic, painted the strokes using his mouth, not hands.

Looking for light is a sentiment he knows all too well.

He experienced darkness after a devastating diving accident left him paralyzed in 2007 with no movement in his legs or hands.

“The first 5 years, it was kind of hard,” he explained. “To not be able to move, to watch the world go by me…when I started noticing it was affecting my family, I just woke up out of it.”

About a year ago, he rediscovered a love of painting, but finding his incredible style took some trial and error.

“One day, I realized, ‘Let me try to put the brush in my mouth,'” he recalled. “Instantly, I noticed I had so much control over the pencil and brush.”

“I believe the strength he gained and decreased pain he got through therapy did help him to be able to paint,” said Susan Goldstein, a physical therapist at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, where the painting will soon hang. “The art in itself is amazing, but when you find out the process, it’s inspiring.”

“Honestly, I just wanted to say thanks,” said Rosario.

His three sons assist their dad with his craft. His third boy was born after the accident when doctors said Rosario and his wife would probably not have more children.

“She ended up being pregnant which was my miracle baby,” said Rosario, a man who could never, would never give up.

“You’ve got to find new tricks to accomplish your goals, but as long as you find those tricks, you can do anything,” he says, sharing a message of hope for nurses, doctors and everyone going through this challenging time. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Rosario has big plans to keep painting and to hang his creations in galleries and maybe even more hospitals to show the world what he can do.

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