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The story of Joe Reed, the family man and quadruple amputee in a new Milwaukee music video

Originally published March 1, 2019

Joe Reed is a quadruple amputee living in Milwaukee, who lost his hands and his legs as a toddler when he caught gangrene. He had never heard of local singer songwriter Ben Wagner when he was contacted by him and a music video director, Damien Blue.

Wagner says that he had been trying to find the perfect idea for a music video for his song "Take My Time," when Blue sent him a news story about Reed.
"It just inspired me so much," Wagner says.

Wagner became set on the idea of having Reed in the video and told Blue to contact him right away.

Reed says that he was intrigued and he called Blue back the same day he was contacted. After speaking with Blue and hearing that he and Wagner thought he would be a good fit, Reed simply said "I'm down."

"He came out to the house the next day, let me hear the song and everything, and I liked the song, it's something different," Reed says. "It sounds like a family song."

Wagner says that the theme of family was exactly what they had in mind, which is part of why Reed's family members are also featured in the video.

At one point in the video, Reed is dancing with his wife of 13 years, Lore "Precious" Reed. The video also features Reed's father, Joseph Leonard Gohagan, as well as Reed accompanying his kids (he has four) to the bus stop before school, a normal morning ritual for their family.


"I just wanted to live a day in the life with Joe Reed," Wagner says, citing one of the first visions they had for the music video.

Wagner also says it was easy to settle on making a video for "Take My Time," rather than any of the other songs from his debut album "Midwestern Comfort."

"This one really has been working a lot, and it's been getting the most radio play," Wagner says. He added that he has talked to people who have told him that this song means something in their life and has helped them feel like everything is going to be okay, no matter the struggle they are facing.

Having never made a video before, Wagner reached out to Blue.

"I did go to Damien and I was like, 'Man I don't really know what I'm doing, can we talk about this?," Wagner says.

The pair then went through several ideas before eventually deciding to contact Reed.

"He inspired me, he made me have that feeling of it's just gonna be fine, and I felt like just showing him and his family in the video was gonna help other people do the same," Wagner says.

One of the more inspiring moments in the video shows Reed doing a front flip out of his wheelchair and dancing, quite flawlessly, to Wagner's song.

"My wife showed Damien this old video where I used to be on my brother in law's dance team back in Chicago called FIK," Reed says. "And it was on YouTube where they seen me flipped out the wheelchair and I was dancing and everything."

After seeing this, Blue asked Reed if he could do some dancing in Wagner's music video.

As for the wheelchair flip, Reed says he was hoping he could still pull it off but he knows that when he did it, "nobody was expecting that roll."

As of March 1, 2019, the video has over 9,000 views since its February 12 release. It's turned Reed into somewhat of a celebrity, especially at his job at Walmart where he works in the electronics department, sometimes for as long as 10 or 12 hours at a time.

Just because you're going through something doesn't mean you have to stop what you're doing and just let it take over. Either you control it or you just let it go.

"I have people approaching me and everything. People reaching out to me and everything. It's crazy," Reed says.

Reed says he did not expect the video to become so popular and to have such a large appeal.

"This is my first time ever doing a video, but one thing I like to do no matter what I do in life, I like to be the best at it," Reed says.

One of the reasons Reed has become such an inspiration is due to his positive outlook on life. He believes that despite any physical disabilities a person might have, as long as their brain can function, there is nothing they can't do.

"Just because you're going through something doesn't mean you have to stop what you're doing and just let it take over," Reed says. "Either you control it or you just let it go."

Reed says that he hopes people will see the video and feel inspired to not give up, despite what they might be struggling with. "There's always a way," Reed added.

"I can't change the past. The only thing I can do is just make the best of it and that's my goal," Reed says.

Reed's music video fame might not be over yet—he has been contacted by several other musicians. In particular, he's talking about collaborating with one musician who also has a disability.

As for Wagner, he has been writing a song a day for the last few months, with a goal to eventually choose some of the best ones and compile his sophomore album. In the meantime, he plans to keep touring and hopefully release some singles in the near future as well.