MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – We’re continuing to share the story of a quadriplegic painter in Meriden as new challenges fuel his passion.

The quadriplegic man paints with his mouth after a devastating diving accident left him paralyzed. When we first met Ryan Rosario in August of 2020, he had just created a piece for Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, honoring heroes in the pandemic.

It was not long after his injury that Rosario fought through dark days that inspired his art and life. Rosario’s 36-year-old wife was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer. 10 months after her diagnosis, she passed away, leaving Rosario to be a single parent to three boys.  

“At times it’s a little bit hard to be a single parent to three boys and being disabled but you know what I can do it, I know I can,” said Rosario.

While his wife was sick, Rosario stopped painting. When she passed away, he poured himself into his artwork with a passion that was anew.

“I knew she’d want me to continue with my art so that just gave me so much fuel to push even harder. One thing about painting is that you can always release all your emotions, your stress, your anger, your happiness put it all in a painting,” shared Rosario.

Rosario’s style is evolving in several ways. He’s focusing more on realism rather than pop art and he’s starting to mentor kids. Rosario began sharing his unique story at the free center in Middletown to encourage kids and families to keep pushing.

“I say to everybody, my disability is actually my ability, my super power. It makes me stand out from everyone else.”

Rosario tells kids – if I can do it, you can do it. He knows he has God and Elizabeth on his side.

“She was my angel here on Earth and now in heaven,” said Rosario.