This story was written by Bobbi Nesbitt and first appeared in the July 2012 issue of Shoppe Talk.
Craig Reinhardt is a busy guy who knows how to live his life without limits.
Reinhardt is owner of the computer company CustomNeeds, LLC, works as information technology director for United Cerebral Palsy, is an avid collector of Razorback and St. Louis Cardinals memorabilia, likes to play the stock market and has volunteered at Riverfest for seven years.
Oh, and he has cerebral palsy. It certainly hasn’t kept him from having a full, fun-filled life and making the lives of people who know him fuller.
His main job is at UCP of Arkansas where he has worked for eight years keeping the computers of all 13 of the organization’s offices around the state in tiptop shape.
“I fix their computers. I develop software for the whole state. They keep me busy,” Craig said.
“CustomNeeds is a side hobby, because I like it so much.”
Craig went to Little Rock schools all of his life and was graduated from Hall High School in 1994. Then he attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock earning a double major in finance and computer information systems. He was graduated from UALR in 1999.
“I want people to know they can do this. Don’t let anyone hold them back because they have a disability.”
Craig worked for a Little Rock technology company for five years before joining the staff of UCP.
He has a real knack and affection for computers.
“The are just so unique. They like me, and I like them. A computer to me is like a new car. It needs a tuneup every so often. Most people think that just because a computer is going slow that they need a new one or need an update. I can reformat computers and make them like new.”
“It’s taking the computer and wiping it clean and reloading the Windows back on. I back up everything and reformat, and they have an old computer like brand new. This is my favorite thing to do. When you do that, it’s better than when you first bought it, because all this junk is loaded in that you never use. When I get a brand new computer, I wipe it clean.”
It hasn’t been a picnic to get to where Craig has gotten in his life. He went through 22 years of speech therapy and many, many hours of physical therapy.
But, he is a very determined, glass-half-full kind of guy, and his efforts have been recognized nationally. In 2010, Craig was given the “Life Without Limits Award” from the nationwide UCP, which gives the award to recognize an individual with disabilities who has “demonstrated leadership and achievement of such a high caliber as to be a significant role model to people with and without disabilities.”
His award stated: “Craig embodies what UCP represents – he has overcome significant physical and speech limitations to be come a critical contributor to the work at UCP of Arkansas in his role as Technology Administrator. The things that Craig has done to help UCP of Arkansas meet its mission of advancing the independence, productivity and full citizenship for people with disabilities are way too numerous to list in their entirety, but his ability to be a role model to others is immeasurable.”
Tricia Vangilder, chief financial officer of UCP of Arkansas, said Craig handles all kinds of computer problems for the organization. “He also developed software that has made our medical billing so much easier to keep up with. He goes to our northwest region and our northeast region, so he’s all over the place. He is a very hard worker.
“I can’t say enough about Craig. He is like a family member. He pulls pranks on us all of the time. If it is April Fools Day or Halloween, be very aware,” Mrs. Vangilder said.
“He will give the shirt off his back for you. He has the biggest heart. He is special to us and special to a lot of people. We don’t think of him as someone who has a disability., He is just Craig, and we love him.”
Jane Arthurs of Little Rock said Craig had purchased computers for her, installed them and answered all her many questions.
“He’s just a Number 1 computer man. When I have a problem with my computer, I call Craig,” Mrs. Arthurs said.
It is not only that he is very knowledgeable, his warm personality and cheerfulness help too, she said.
“Craig has a great sense of humor, and I think his being able to laugh as so many of the problems helps you through the problems when you are dealing with people like me who are not very computer literate. He has a great laugh, and his sense of humor, I think, adds to his being so pleasant and his ability to work so well with people.”
Craig created his computer company, CustomNeeds, in 2002 as a hobby. It helps individuals and small businesses with common computer problems, reformats, and Windows upgrades. If your computer has constant popups or alerts, if you think it has viruses or spyware, or even if you think it’s “dead,” call CustomNeeds at 291-4673 or email Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also offers a service to convert VHS tapes to DVDs.
Barbara Casey of Ward, office manager for Chiropractic Wellness Center in Little Rock, said Craig does computer work for that business.
“Every time I have a big problem, I’m like, ‘CRAIG, come here!’ He is a wonderful person. I really like him.
“He has probably taken most of the ones we have and just wiped them out and reprogrammed them.”
Melanie Gibson of Little Rock, broker and property manager for Collins International in Little Rock, said she first knew Craig when he began working on her home computer.
“Now he does some of my work in the building. I’ll call him with a problem, and he will guide me through every step off the top of his head,” Ms. Gibson said.
“Craig is very capable, a true professional. I am truly appreciative of Craig’s skills, because I sure don’t have them, and I need him terribly.”
Craig has been driving since 1994. He went to Hot Springs Rehabilitation to learn how to drive and had his automobile outfitted with hand controls.
He enjoys driving to schools and organizations to share his success story.,
“I just like for people to realize that they do not have to let a challenge get in the way of anything. I see people make fun. We are just like you are. There’s no need for people to discriminate against someone who cannot walk as well or talk as well.
“I see worse disabilities (than mine). Some people can’t walk, some people are paralyzed. So, I feel lucky. I always thank my parents for letting me have the independence they allowed me to have all through my youth.”
I’d like to end Craig’s story with one of his recent favorite quotes. It comes from Elena Delle Donne, who has won a number of awards for her basketball prowess, including USA Today National Player of the Year, Naismith Prep Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, and EA Sports Player of the Year.
“As I grew up, I became aware that there are people with special needs out there, and I have a real connection to them. It’s upsetting when people are afraid of these kids. Instead of being afraid, you should just go up to them and talk to them. Because you can learn so much from them,” Ms. Donne said.