Zooming happily along in his motorized wheelchair, local man Richard Herrin is a common sight around town, yet those who have taken the time to get to know him have found a great mind and sharp intellect.
One of those inspired by Herrin is author Peter Bowling Anderson, who recently released his book on the Manchester man, “Life at 8 MPH: How a Man with Cerebral Palsy Taught Me the Secret to Happiness.”
A tale of desperation turned into life changing experiences for two men. Peter Bowling Anderson was broke and needed a job after moving to Fort Worth, Texas, to be in a band with his friend. Richard Herrin, now of Manchester, needed a tutor to help him pass his master’s program. The next five years that followed changed both of their lives, an experience Anderson wished to document in his newest book, “Life at 8 MPH: How a Man with Cerebral Palsy Taught Me the Secret to Happiness.”
Herrin has Cerebral Palsy and has been confined to a wheelchair his entire life, though he never let this stop him from living his life. After aging out of assistance programs, high school, and an institution his father placed him in, Herrin got into Section 8 Housing and, with the help of Community Living Assistance and Support Services (CLASS) program, he was able to live alone with the help of attendants.
Herrin got married, had kids and divorced before Anderson found his advertisement for a tutor to help him get his graduate degree.
“This book is not about me, it’s about how (Anderson) changed my life and I changed his. I’m just like anybody else. I’m not no different than anybody else,” Herrin said, in an earlier interview with the Times.
The day Anderson contacted Herrin about the job was the day Anderson wanted to run the other way. But the tutor was won over by Herrin’s smile and decided to take the risk because he needed the money. Over the years, Anderson’s view changed.
“The very first meeting I had with him, he wanted to do a book. His idea was a collection of sermons he had written. As we were working, years went by, I thought every now and then that this would be a good book…I had a misconception about people with Cerebral Palsy, I didn’t think I was capable of offering him anything, but that’s not the case,” Anderson said, also from an earlier interview.
“He’s a really good guy – it’s hard to say no to him,” he added. “He’s got the great smile…it helps you too when you’re around something like that, it helps keep your trials in perspective.”
Anderson believed writing a story about Herrin could help others who are struggling like he was, put a smile on their face or give them hope.