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MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS -- Having a disability can be a real challenge when you're trying to live the life you had imagined.

But two brothers, who have been able to "See the Possible," are overcoming their disabilities to a remarkable degree.

Throughout their lives Paul and Brian have always tried to stay together. But it wasn't always easy, not knowing where they would live.

"It could be upsetting, nervous, hectic," the brothers both said, as they often answer questions in unison. "You could be mad at yourself."

Paul, 35, and Brian, 33, are hesitant to go into much detail about their lives prior to 2001, the year they moved in together into a comfortable suburban bungalow provided to them by North Coast Community Homes.

The brothers have multiple disabilities, including the progressive loss of their vision. They also had to battle excessive weight.

"I was 347," Brian said, of his weight. "327," confessed Paul.

Recognizing that stabilizing the young men's weight was a priority, NCCH came up with a simple but effective method of exercise that took into account Paul and Brian's limitations.

A waist-high rope was installed in their backyard and the brothers, whose sight had virtually vanished, were encouraged to walk the length of the rope and back, again and again, each putting a hand on the line to guide them.

"Pretty much every day, if it's not storming or lightning," Paul explained. Those dozens, hundreds, and eventually thousands of trips up and down that rope together, combined with a better diet, led to massive weight loss and have them enjoying their lives much more fully.

Paul celebrated his better conditioning by going sky-diving.

"From over 9,000 feet," he proudly related to a visitor. "It was cold up there, so cold! When we landed I thought there might be a problem with all the metal that is holding my back together, but we came down very gently."

Brian has taken up a more earthbound hobby -- raising rabbits. Although he can't see them, they get all the love he has.

"They're litter-trained and they come up to me and they're nice to me," he says, while leaning into one of the large cages and using his hands to locate and cuddle King, who was rescued from a home overrun by nearly 25 rabbits.

"They like to be rubbed and I feed them and give them water and stuff," Brian said.

The brothers are both huge NASCAR fanatics and "watch" every lap of every race on TV. Their bedrooms are NASCAR shrines and they even got to go to a race once in Michigan.

"It was loud. It was loud," Paul and Brian chimed in, again in unison, reliving the excitement of the day. "And smell that tire rubber all over and smell that ethanol. Really, really loud! We were sitting in pit row."

Brian is loyal to the 48 car, driven by 5-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmy Johnson. Paul roots for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart and proudly displays a tattoo of "The Intimidator," the late racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Each brother dreams of someday being able to meet his hero. It's clear that, once they had a place to really call home, Paul and Brian could stabilize their situation, and begin to thrive the way they had imagined.

The brothers are just two of nearly 1,000 people with disabilities who are now living in more than 200 homes provided by North Coast Community Homes all across Northeast Ohio.

Written by Dick Russ, Vice President of Resource Development, North Coast Community Homes.

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