By Danny Baggott @Dan_Baggie
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Videographer / director: Alonso Parra
Producer: Danny Baggott, Ruby Coote
Editor: Beth Angus
Ernie, 30, was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, otherwise known as Sacral Agenesis. Affecting just one in 25,000 births, the congenital disorder prevents Ernie from using his legs – he has to walk with his hands.
Ernie was also born with just one kidney that functions at 3 percent and he suffers with constant back pains.
In spite of the shocking adversity his condition has brought over the years, Ernie, who lives in Phoenix Arizona, works a full time job and strives to be the best father and husband for the sake of his family.
Ernie told Barcroft TV: “I have never met anybody like me before. It’s pretty rare what I’ve got.
“I walk on my hands and my feet are a lot smaller than what they should be.
“But you know what, I stay happy by looking at the things I have in life and seeing how far I have come.”
For the majority of Ernie’s life, he was taking three to four prescription pills a day to help cope with his condition.
But around seven years ago, he discovered a new method to ease the aches and pains.
“Regular medication was making me feel real sick,” Ernie said.
“So I switched things up and used medical marijuana instead. Smoking the cannabis actually really helps.
“It takes the edge away for me, you know. I’m able to get through the rest of the day and do whatever I need to do.
“And yeah, then I’m happy. I always like to be the funny guy in the group, or the crazy one. And without the pain, I can be that.”
Due to Ernie’s back pain and walking on his hands, he often gets from place to place by riding on his skateboard.
And his unorthodox style hasn’t gone unnoticed by the locals who have nicknamed him, ‘krazie legz.’
Ernie said: “Yeah everybody calls me ‘krazie legz – that’s my nickname.
“I only use my wheelchair when I’m at work or I’m going on a night out with my wife.
“And the best thing is, I actually love skateboarding. It’s always been a massive part of my life. I got my first board when I was three.
“Now, I’m 30 and I’m still learning new tricks that I’ve never accomplished before.
“It makes me feel good. Skateboarding has really helped to improve my self-confidence.”
Whilst Ernie had a number of friends growing up, his confidence would often hit rock bottom with people teasing him because of his condition.
“You know, growing up wasn’t too bad. I had a lot of friends but people would tease me from time to time,” Ernie said.
“People would make fun. They’d point at me and laugh.
“I can remember as a kid having times where I’d just be sat in a room by myself, listening to music because I’d be upset. I’d think why did I come out handicapped? Why me?
“But thankfully, I had a lot of close friends who had my back like brothers. And I dealt with it.
“And now, I don’t really like to share my feelings with anyone but my wife.
“She’s beautiful, as are my two kids. So I can’t have many complaints.”
Ernie tied the knot with his wife, Vanessa Ibarra, seven years ago and has acted as the father figure to her two children since they were little boys.
Vanessa, 29, said: “I met Ernie in some apartment that we both used to live in. He had just moved in.
“I thought he was a cute guy. I didn’t know anything about his condition when we first met.
“I haven’t really noticed when people have made fun of him over the years. I get upset when Ernie does sometimes, because these people are often just curious.
“I think what made me fall in love with him, was his personality. He loves me a lot and I like that he loves me a lot.
“And of course, he is just so good with my two kids. He has been there since forever and helps me a lot. They are two crazy boys and he helps keep them in control.”
Vanessa’s two children, Airik Casanova and Andrew Rodriguez, treat Ernie as their father and are very thankful for everything he continues to do for them, despite his condition.
Airik said: “My dad inspires me a lot. Sometimes we go skating and he inspires me to do tricks I never thought I could do.
“I love him very much. On a scale of 1-100, 100”.
Andrew added: “I love him all the way to like 45 billion galaxies.”
And now, Ernie is looking forward to the future with his family and experiencing all the new challenges that life throws his way.
He said: “Before I met Vanessa, my life was okay I suppose. But words can’t describe how much she, and my children, mean to me.
“I feel like anything is possible, I feel like a normal person.
“People can tell me ‘oh you can’t do that’, and my response will always be, ‘just watch me’.
“I’m very proud of what I have overcome.”