Doug Forbis: A role model from love, perserverance

Published on Sunday, February 24, 2019

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Kat and Doug Forbis.


Kat and Doug Forbis.


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Doug Forbis finds himself in the middle of wrestling mania.


Doug Forbis finds himself in the middle of wrestling mania.


Editor’s Note: Today’s story on Doug Forbis is a bi-monthly feature by Brian Peahuff to share inspirational, powerful stories about people who have overcome life-changing events and are now making contributions in our communities. We will also be reporting issues that affect our disabled society.

By BRIAN PEAHUFF           

            When Doug Forbis appeared on MTV’s “True Life: I’m In A Wheelchair” and ABC’s 20/20, the cameras caught a 16-year-old high school student doing typical teenager things despite his disability.

                Doug, 32, lives with his wife, Kat, in their Boiling Springs home. He teaches full-time Self-Contained Special Education at Hughes Academy of Science and Technology in Greenville.

            Doug was born with sacral agenesis, a congenital disorder in which there is an abnormal fetal development of the lower spine. As a result, both of his legs were amputated when he was two-years-old.

            “I’m not necessarily happy with how the True Life went, but I understand what they were trying to do,” Doug said. “I just wish I would have been more knowledgeable at the time and would have said, ‘no you are not using that.’ 

             “True Life is what led to 20/20 and they let me be involved in the story that I wanted to tell,” Doug said. “I didn’t have total control, but I was able to tell them that I didn’t want it to be an inspiration piece or sob story.”

            True Life was filmed when Doug was a junior at Dorman High School, and 20/20 was recorded during his senior year.

            Doug and Kat met on Tinder. The couple married on Jan. 13, 2017.

            “Both of us being nerds helped (draw us together),” said Doug, as he laughed. “When we met, I was trying to fight it because I had just gone through a bad breakup.

            “And just growing up the way I did, standing out so much, you get a lot of insecurities and you just wonder why would anyone want to be with me and deal with all of this extra stuff,” Doug said. “Everybody wants the ‘normal’ life, but that’s not how it always works out.”

            As the relationship grew, there wasn’t any doubt in Kat’s mind as to whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. 

            “It took maybe five minutes of me asking myself, ‘is all of this something that I can actually accept,’” Kat said. “I knew without a doubt, that all of the benefits that I got from loving Doug and being with him far surpassed any of the difficulties that may lie ahead.

            "It was never a question of was our love big enough to get past the physical obstacles. He makes me better. He brought out things that I didn’t see in myself and I love the way that he sees me,” Kat said.   

            Doug has fought through a lot of struggles and persevered through it all to get to where he is today.

            Doug’s parents, Alisa and Doug, were advised at his birth to amputate but were unable to make that decision until he was two. It was shortly after that, that Doug learned to maneuver his body with his arms. He can now get himself in and out of his wheelchair and does almost anything a person with legs can do.

            “I never had a choice, but to know that I was different,” Doug said. “I never blended in. It never really bothered me. I ended up being the leader of the ‘nerd’ group.

            “We all played video games and watched cartoons and that kind of stuff. It’s funny because we were all targets, but I don’t think it was because of me (and my disability). I didn’t really process that kind of stuff growing up,” Doug said. 

            Doug graduated Dorman in 2004, and the University of Illinois with a Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology in 2008. He was certified in Special Education from Converse College in 2012.

            Doug landed his first job teaching Self-Contained Special Education at Pacolet Elementary in 2013-17.

            “There were a couple of interviews where they told me to watch my phone, but then they didn’t call me back,” Doug said. “I eventually figured out that they weren’t going to hire me, but it just didn’t match what went on in the interview.

            “I know for a fact that it was my disability at some places, but at others it was because I didn’t have any experience. Pacolet saw the opportunity for they’re to be a positive male role-model in that field and I’m thankful for that,” Doug said.

            Doug’s family support was unconditional.

            “My parents never let me off the hook for anything,” Doug said. “They never treated me any different (because of my disability). They had the same expectations for me as they had for my sister. That’s a large part of the reason that I’m able to go and push my students.”

• Comments, ideas, purchase my book write me at: [email protected].

• You might want to read: Kevin Kraus turned to education to give meaning to his life.






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