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Posts Tagged ‘adaptive skiing’

Happy Friday!

A video has been making it’s way around the net about Josh Dueck, a skier who has just performed a back-flip. If you don’t know his story, you might say “what’s the big deal?” Extreme sports have become more mainstream and the X Games were just on TV a few weeks ago. Skiers were doing all sorts of crazy stuff! But Josh’s story is a “little” different.

Josh is an accomplished skier who nailed a back flip on a sit-ski. Yes, a sit-ski. I have watched this video a few times now, and must admit I have mixed emotions. As a mother of a son with a spinal cord injury, I cringed at the idea. Always a “worrier,” I couldn’t even watch Darren play quad rugby at first (now I love it!). I think about the “what ifs.” As a skier myself, I have absolutely NO IDEA how people accomplish jumps, flips, spins and the likes. I am happy to have my two skis on the snow at all times. Just the idea of being airborne would send me right into the lodge! Being the mother of two expert skiers, I know the urge was always there to “push the envelope” as they got better and better.

But now I watch Josh Dueck doing what he loves – skiing, screaming down mountains, taking jumps and flying thru the air. How wonderful to see him doing what he has always dreamed of. Yes, he is using a sit-ski, but does it really matter? What this has reminded me of is that people who sustain spinal cord injuries are still the same person they were before their injury. A quiet, shy person is still quiet and shy. Using a wheelchair doesn’t make him or her a new, outgoing personality ready to work a room. A loud, aggressive person who was annoying is still annoying now. And a daring, adventurous athlete is still willing to take risks, go beyond the limits and see what can be accomplished.

For this, I love Josh Dueck. I love seeing that he is still pursuing his dreams and “going for it.” I love seeing that he has a support team willing to help him reach his goals. And I love that he is sharing his accomplishments.

Perhaps in a future blog post, I will touch on what we DON’T see in the video – what it takes to practice and train for such a demanding sport, the challenges of the clothing, the weather, the equipment, getting to and from the mountains…………… so much we might all take for granted, but is certainly not easy for an athlete with a disability.

For now, enjoy the videos for all they have to offer – and all they have to show us what determination and dreams can mean.

A shorter video about the back-flip:  http://youtu.be/4xjUUf_sK84 and a longer video (which I totally enjoyed) about Josh’s “story”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/08/josh-dueck-sit-ski-backflip_n_1263159.html (this is a longer video is lower on the page).

Happy viewing, and let me know what YOU think!

Cynthia

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I thought about writing today’s post about flying because my son, Darren, will be flying to Las Vegas tomorrow afternoon for a quad rugby tournament. As with many of my posts, they come from my own personal experience, and are not neccessarily true or accurate for everyone else, but they are what I know, and can hopefully help others.

As many of you already know, Darren is very independent. He’s a C5 quad that drives, has his MBA and works full time. He is living in an apartment with a roommate, and is active on the Board and as a player for the NY Warriors quad rugby team.

Darren has flown many times since his injury. Some flights were with me or other family members, with friends, and by himself as well. He uses a manual wheelchair with eMotion wheels, which he has to be very careful with when flying. His roommate will be dropping him off and picking him up from the airport, so I won’t even be there to give him last minute reminders. I’m sure Darren is grateful for that actually! While I feel the need to remind him of a variety of things, Darren doesn’t obviously need my help (imagine that!). Oh, the anxiety “us Moms” have when “letting go” of our children……..

One thing I know is to allow plenty of time for everything travel related. It takes more time to drop off the passenger, more time to check in, more time to go through security, etc. Preparation is key! Then, usually the airline wants you to board FIRST, so you want to make sure you arrive at the gate with plenty of time. In Darren’s case, he stays in his wheelchair until he reaches the door of the plane. He is then transferred into an “aisle chair” that is very narrow and fits in the aisle of the plane. It is up to Darren to instruct the helpers as to how to lift him, how to transfer, etc. It is very important that the passenger feel comfortable in explaining how things should be done for him/herself. If the passenger is unable to explain the details, he/she should have someone along with them to explain. His wheelchair (previously tagged) will be gate checked.

During a long flight or delays of any sort, you should be prepared to catheterize should the need arise. Darren always has his supplies with him, and with the help of a seat mate or stewardess, he can have a blanket for privacy should he need to take care of urinating on the plane. It can hopefully be avoided, but sometimes must be done.

Upon arrival at the destination, a person using an aisle chair and needing their wheelchair from the cargo area, is generally the last one off the plane. It is important to check the wheelchair to make sure it all looks good, before transferring back into it. I know Darren takes off some of the parts that might come off or be harmed in transit (tip bars, seat cushion), so they need to be put back on.

I hope I don’t jinx this trip, but up until now, Darren has not had any problems with his chair. I have heard horror stories about both passengers and equipment being abused and not treated properly, but fortunately, Darren’s equipment has always been OK.

We did have a situation in the Denver airport when we were flying home to NJ from a great week of skiing at Winter Park (their adaptive program was awesome!) where Darren was definitely and clearly mis-treated. The agent was nasty and seemed to have his eye on Darren from the minute we arrived at security. At that time, we did not know the regulation/law said that a person in a wheelchair does NOT have to be removed from his/her chair for an “inspection,” but we do now. We had never had this happen before (or since, thank goodness), but that experience was horrible. The agent insisted on bringing Darren into a private room, would not let me or anyone in the family accompany him, and they transferred him out of his wheelchair and into another chair so they could inspect him and the chair. It was an awful, humiliating experience. We know now that a person is not required to do this, and I hope Darren carries that regulation with him, that we found online. Hopefully he’ll never have to use it.

All in all, his travel experiences have been pleasant, and he certainly does not avoid flying if he wants to go somewhere. I’d love to hear your questions, experiences and stories. Please share!

Cynthia

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