Jorge Sierra Inspires From a Wheelchair
In the early 1990’s, Jorge Sierra was headed in the wrong direction. Living in a tough area in suburban Connecticut, the then 17 year old got involved with an even tougher crowd. In May of 1994, he was shot 6 times in a gang related activity and ended up paralyzed from the waist down.
It was a hard road for Sierra…difficult recovery physically and of course an equal amount of anxiety concerning his future. In 2000, serendipity. While going past the Rob Roy Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts, Sierra decided to stop in. It was love at first sight.
“I haven’t left since,” he says. “There was an instant connection. I’ve always been into maintaining my hair and they allowed me to believe that I could do that for others. They allowed me to believe I had a future there.”
And he did. “I remember when he rolled through the door,” says Rob Roy School Director Sue Derosier. “It was the first time we saw anyone in that position, but we knew if he was willing to work, it could be done.”
Says Sierra, “They were all so encouraging. ‘You can do whatever you put your mind to’, was what I heard repeatedly. It was great guidance from a gentle push.”
Sierra took to barbering right away. His talent allowed him succeed despite of all the obvious challenges. “These are challenges that I can address,” says the artist now known best as Gee Wheelz. In addition to sitting on a mobile cutting chair, Sierra has taller clients lean toward him for a good shaping or shaving.
The wheelchair has not held him back at all. He has opened the MVP barbershop and the Sierra Salon and Barbershop, both in Worcester, Massachusetts, and still spends time as an educator at Rob Roy. According to Derosier, he inspires clients AND students. “Other wheelchair dependent students are now enrolled at Rob Roy, directly as a result of Sierra. Everyone sees him as an idol and mentor. It is amazing,” she adds. “I watched him grow from a hard street kid to a successful professional who is determined to change the lives of others who come from a similar background. No job is too hard for him. He says if I can do this than so can others. We are so proud of his success and accomplishments.”
Most recently, Sierra has rallied the entire barbering industry in Massachusetts to unite, gather and learn from each other. The “Barber Battle” begins this Sunday, May 6, in Boston, all part of the program created by Curtis Smith, personal groomer to Sean Diddy Combs. “We then go on a ten city tour throughout the United States,” says Sierra. “This is the first year, and already we are bursting at the seams. There will be classes and competitions, all very exciting.” Mr. Gee Wheelz encourages any and all to watch, attend or participate. Contact information is below, but for the barber battle alone, go to www.hairbattletour.com.
“I’m excited where I am in life,” says Sierra. “This whole situation has been a blessing in disguise. It allowed me to unearth a talent that I would otherwise never have known existed. At 17, I was up to no good, and now I am. Oddly, I’m actually grateful it happened. It’s funny how life is.”
for more info about the barber battle or to get in touch with Sierra, he says to feel free to contact him: