Milwaukee quadruple amputee refuses to let setbacks define his life

It's a story of rough beginnings, overcoming obstacles and finding love. That describes a Milwaukee man who refuses to let setbacks define his life.

"The only limitation you have is your mind." That's the message from Joe Reed.

When you first talk to Reed you think he could be an inspirational speaker. When you hear his story you know he could be one.

"I lost my limbs at 2 years old due to meningitis. Gangrene set up they had to amputate my limbs in order to save my life," said Reed.

"I died once. My foster mother beat me so bad, she was a heavy set woman and she sat on me once and I passed out," he also said.  

A sad beginning to a young life.

Reed met his wife Lore Allen in High School. Both are 33 years old.

When they began dating, she knew he had no hands, but she had no idea he had no legs. He was wearing prosthetics under his pants.

"I hit him, and I said 'Ooooh your legs hurt my hand.' He said that's from me working out baby, I work out real hard," Allen said.

The day Reed revealed the truth, his wife's family was shocked.

"He jumped and he kind of scared me. He did a leap and said boom and did a twist. And I said, 'Is I'm actually seeing this?' But I didn't run," he said. "All the rest of my kinfolks ran. I just stayed there and said this is kind of fascinating."

Today the couple stays busy raising their three children in their Milwaukee home. Reed says there's nothing he cannot do. Seeing him around the kitchen, preparing a meal, it's clear he makes the most of what he has.

"So far the only thing I haven't mastered is trying a shoe. That is the only thing I haven't mastered," Reed said.

Reed admits his wife helped him overcome a dire childhood and save him from deep depression.

"When we were like sophomores and juniors he told me how he wanted to kill himself and commit suicide cause of all the stuff he was going through. I said if you do that I will never forgive you," said Allen.

Reed is determined to give his kids the childhood he never had.

"Just because your parent was not there for you does not mean you don't have to be there for your kids," Kids are innocent when they come into this world," said  Reed.

The Reed household is just like any other busy family a lot of laughter, teasing and hugs. Allen says she does not baby her husband because of his disability.

"Naww....No! I treat him like a regular man," she said.

Allen also shares something else with her husband.

"People are like how ya'll do it. I say let me tell you something, he may not have his limbs but everything else works fine you know!" she said.

"I can cook, I know how to drive, I can clean, I get my own self-dressed, I can change diapers. I pretty much do everything that any normal person can do!" Reed said.

Reed is a symbol of the human spirit ad a man refusing to focus on what he can't do, but what he can.

"The only thing that can make a person not normal is yourself," Reed said. 

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