Mario Bonfante has always pushed limits.
He started with BMX (bicycle motocross) as a kid and progressed to street bikes until an accident in 2006 left him a quadriplegic at age 17. His limited mobility, however, didn’t slow him down a bit. When told he would never be able to live on his own, let alone race, he focused only on how to continue chasing his passion.
Today Bonfante routinely drives racecars at 130 mph even though he has no use of his lower body, limited mobility in his arms, no ability to grip with his hands, and use of only his pinky fingers.
An Engineer is Created
Though not an engineer, and still in his teens, Bonfante was a scrappy problem solver, selling belongings to purchase a go-cart so he could begin figuring how he could use the muscles he had left to control a vehicle at high speed.
Eventually, he discovered SOLIDWORKS and GoEngineer and purchased it with help from a loan from his grandparents.
He figured out how to attach his hands to a steering wheel and how to rotate it and operate a racecar with limited arm function. He created a twist throttle and a push brake, and he pulls back to up-shift and forward to downshift. He tested all these controls with digital simulations in SOLIDWORKS and produced prototypes with a 3D printer.
Eventually, Bonfante’s innovations launched his company, KES Industries, which markets his patented precision hand controls, a driving system that is adaptable to any vehicle, along with other products.
With his life-long passion for racing, Bonfante has not let quadriplegia stop him or even set him back.
“I have had quite a few hurdles to hop over but I’ve always been problem solver my entire life, and I found there’s a lot of ways to do one specific task and with the technology advancements and everything else that’s available nowadays there are no excuses on why we can’t do anything.”
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