Pasco resident, despite injuries, sets sights on becoming lawyer

PASCO, Wash. – “We were just diving in the river, with my family, so I dove, but I didn’t come up,” Climaco Abarca from Pasco said.

Much of Climaco Abarca’s life since his diving accident in 2001 has been filled with surgeries, setbacks and way to overcome them.

“It’s a C5, C6 so I’m a quadriplegic and I wasn’t able to move anything when I first got injured. I remember laying in bed I couldn’t feed myself,” he was 15 years old when the injury happened.

Months after his injury, Abarca, a determined student, returned to high school. After he graduated, he attended Columbia Basin Community College.

“It was kind of hard because my mom, was a single mother at that time so she was mom and dad and working two jobs. My thinking was changed to now I have to do a lot of school work so I can help her in the future,” he said.

Then, another setback.

Climaco said he dealt with issues from a tailbone infection for years.

But recently, he started to feel well enough to start school at WSU Tri-Cities, while working for the Washington State Department from home as a contact tracer.

He’s studying psychology with hopes of becoming a lawyer.

“I liked it too; learning about laws and what can you do or cannot do; it sounds like it was kind of meant to be at the end of the day. Maybe I can help other people, so I am looking toward injury or immigration because there’s a lot of that here,” he said.

Climaco is attending college and saving for law school with the help of Washington State ABLE Savings Plan.

This program allows residents with a qualifying disability to invest money in an account for life’s needs without risking their state or federal benefits. Climaco said in the past, he couldn’t have more than $2,000 in his account to qualify for state benefits.

“I found that great, I didn’t know about it but if I would’ve I think I would’ve started that a lot sooner,” he said.

Climaco still has some time before law school but he’s set his sights on Gonzaga.

He has a message for people who could use a little inspiration.

“Just take it one day at a time don’t get too stressed out, tomorrow’s a different day and you know there’s always a change,” he said.

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