Daryl Thomas was surrounded by family, co-workers and old friends, Saturday as he took the first cut into a future he has been working toward since his days at the University of Alabama.
After years of hard work and chasing a lifelong dream, Thomas, a man who doesn’t let his cerebral palsy limit anything he does, has become a business owner doing what he loves most: accounting.
“It’s a dream come true,” Thomas said. “When I was in school, I decided then that I wanted to have my own business and run my own firm and it took 20 years but I finally got to where I want to be.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Broad Street Saturday opened the Thomas Accounting and Income Tax Service, LLC firm, where Thomas is an owner. As an all-A student in math and accounting classes, Thomas knew once he took his first accounting class at Alabama that he was going to be accountant.
He also knew he wasn’t going to let his disability stop him from achieving that goal. To those who know him best, including his wife of 14 years Sherri Thomas, this landmark achievement was hardly a shock.
“He’s extremely determined in everything he does in all of his efforts, so I’m not surprised at all,” Sherri said.
Daryl’s daughter, Nakiria, wasn’t surprised either to see her father take another step forward in his accounting career. That’s mainly because Daryl has been inspiring Nakiria her whole life, showing her that anything is possible.
“I think it’s very inspirational because you don’t see many people with his condition that are more successful than him,” Nakiria said.
Daryl’s mother, Ozetta Thomas, works with him at the firm along with Sherri and other family members. Ozetta couldn’t be prouder of her son, who she said inspired not only Nakiria but the whole Selma community by opening his own business in spite of his limitations.
“He showed the community a whole lot,” Ozetta said. “Being physically challenged, he has not sat down or stepped back or asked for anything. He’s always wanting to earn his own.”
Daryl’s friends describe him as an extremely selfless person. Daryl has started two non-profit organizations in the past year, working to give scholarships to students just like the scholarship he was given to realize his passion at Alabama.
Daryl’s long-time friend Billy Young said that if Daryl gets into an argument with him, he’ll shake it off immediately afterward and offer to buy Young a meal. Young said Daryl never holds a grudge.
“When you think Daryl Thomas, you think integrity,” Young said.
Daryl knows that many people underestimated his ability to become a business owner because of his disability, but he didn’t work hard simply to hush his critics.
“My goal wasn’t to prove anybody wrong,” Daryl said. “My goal was to take care of myself and my family and that was my motivation.”
Ozetta hopes that other people with disabilities will look up to Daryl and realize they are more capable than they may think.
“It just proves that the disability does not define the person,” Ozetta said. “It’s just one more hurdle that you have to surpass, and it can be done.”
Daryl is disabled, but no one can make him believe he’s unable to accomplish anything because of it.
“It’s the beginning of a new step in my life,” Daryl said.
credit – selmatimesjournal.com