It was an average day in February for 13-year Toyota veteran, Todd Parish. From his early days as a production team member to his current position as a group leader at Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia (TMMWV), Todd took pride in the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from a hard day’s work.
So, when what started out as neck pain and motor issues turned into a spinal cord condition requiring emergency surgery — leaving him a quadriplegic — Todd was not interested in not coming to work.
“I have proudly worked every day of my life since I was 15 and was not about to let this new circumstance change that.”
Just one month after returning home from the hospital, Todd started his impossible by initiating the process of returning to TMMWV.
“It was a major process,” says Todd. No one had ever worked on the production floor from a wheelchair, but once Todd received clearance from his doctor, the ball was in Toyota’s court. With a tremendous amount of support from human resources and his TMMWV management advocating for his return based on his previous performance, nine months later, Todd was back on the job.
With the rallying support of his fellow team members and the sacrifice and encouragement of his wife, Todd was able to fight through the self-doubt and depression that one can go through during a drastic and traumatic life change.
“Anytime you go through a life-altering situation, it’s really amazing and humbling when you see the outpouring of support. You don’t think much about Respect for People on a daily basis because it’s just something that happens. But, to come back from this; for people to go out of their way to do what they can do to help support me? Respect for People has been a huge part of my successful return.”
Now with a new perspective and heightened awareness of Diversity and Inclusion at Toyota, Todd says he takes additional pride in knowing Toyota is committed to his success. And, Todd is committed to paying it forward and contributing to others’ success. He partnered with Toyota to help come up with different mobility solutions based on his experience. And, in 2017, he was asked to be a representative at the Toyota-sponsored annual Disability Matters conference in Miami, Florida.
“My hope is we can start to accelerate our active recruitment of people who have challenges and further embrace their diverse points of view. Anything I can do to repay the confidence Toyota had in me to bring me back, I will do.”