WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - He's witnessed drug deals, murders, and was even paralyzed by bullets on the streets of D.C. Now, he’s seeing the streets in a whole new way, from the front seat of his new transportation business.
Lorenzo Stewart is beating the odds, and becoming an entrepreneur, thanks to a little help from a District program.
The 41-year-old father just launched VOW Transportation. Lorenzo took WUSA9 on a ride through the District to show his journey.
"This is where I was injured at right here, right here in front of this carry out, we was parked right where this white van is at," he said. "We went in, ordered the food, came back, when I got in the car, someone shot the car up and from that result, I ended up being a paraplegic."
That was when Stewart was 15. He says he saw violence often in D.C. Later on, he was a club promoter.
"To protect myself, I decided every time I had an event to bring a firearm to protect myself just in case somebody tried to take from me, rob from me or whatever the case might be," said Lorenzo.
Stewart says police pulled him over, and arrested him. He says he served time for having an unregistered gun. It was tough to get a job after that.
"It was so hard getting jobs and I don't know if it was based off the disability or if it was based off the criminal record," he said.
Lorenzo signed up for D.C.’s Aspire to Entrepreneurship program. It’s a partnership with two District agencies and an organization called Changing Perceptions. They all helped Lorenzo get a loan, get office space, hire drivers, and start his company. His goal is to help people with disabilities, senior citizens, and students get where they need to go.
He says he knows how important it is.
"I was receiving inadequate service, so I know how vital transportation is for a person with a disability," he said.
Lorenzo says he has contracts coming in and has provided rides for charity. But he also says he wants to inspire kids on the street that if he can rise above, they can too.
"I can't change the world but as long as I can get to one, two or three people that need help, need support, I feel like I did my job," said Lorenzo.
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