"No Child Left Inside" · Accessibility · Adaptive Adventure · Adaptive Parenting (an adventure itself) · Family life · Growing Up New Hampshire · Through the Power of Sport

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Blog, April 23, 2018: “Carrying the Load, One Hill at a Time”

Watching the Boston Marathon is always inspiring, especially this year, the fifth anniversary of the tragic bombing when many were killed and injured, whose bodies will never be the same.The weather was utterly crappy, a cold, relentless rain for 26.2 miles. I can’t even imagine.The news showed a man handcycling late in the afternoon, the reporter saying he had been cranking those pedals with his arms since early that morning.

Having completed the marathon before, Geoff wondered if the man was fit enough to ride a handcycle 26.2 miles or perhaps the rain and cold had cramped his muscles or just left him bereft of enough energy.Regardless, the crowd carried him along, just as it does many of us when life gets harder than usual. It’s been a tough week for my husband as he has fallen out of his wheelchair not once but twice.The first time he was trying to get our kids to an event with the dog and a car full of skis.When he fell, he hit his head twice, once on the door and then again on the rim that surrounds the FJ Cruiser.Our 8- year- old son was horrified as was our service dog; but our 6- year- old daughter went into emergency mode, “Should I get help, Daddy?”

Once he self-assessed the damage to his body, he somehow transferred from the ground back into the vehicle.Shaken up for hours afterward, he would not listen to my suggestions for a lower vehicle.“It’s not the car; it’s that my arms are so tired from the weekend.”We had hiked Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mt. Washington with friends the previous day, and, while ultimately awesome, the wear and tear on his body has more impact now at 47 than it did at 30 or 35 or even 40.How can I suggest to him that falling out of his wheelchair might, yes, have to do with hiking and skiing, but that his body is overall more tired and a lower car could actually help?But he doesn’t want to talk about that; he wants to talk about why he loves the adventure so much– and that there is always a crew of people willing to pull him up with a rope and carabiners attached to their waists, and now we share that with our children.

In Geoff’s words:

“Mt. Washington always brings out the best in people: the adventure, the rawness of the mountain, and everything awesome in humanity.Every person on the trail to the ravine is on their own path to adventure and challenge but is brought together as a team by being in this pristine and magical place that is Tuckerman’s.Anyone who had been there is forever a part of the fraternity (women included) that defines what New England Skiing personifies. Anytime- any place- and any condition that the mountains may bring that day. You listen to the mountain, and you always let it tell you what the limits of the day are; as always, she will reward you with memories that never extinguish throughout time.

One of the things that still amazes me as I take on new challenges and adventures in life is that my SCI has not been a deterrent to living; rather it’s been an asset and an incredible way to express creativity and grow relationships between people and places. The daily struggles are real, but the choice to take them on is the same for everyone in a different way. Places like Tuckerman’s remind you that you are not alone; people are there to support each of us individually and as humans.You can live the life if and when you choose to be in it.”

His words “choosing life” are powerful, yet they remind me that his sense of adventure needs to last a lifetime, however long that is for any of us. He’s always worried that he won’t live to see his children grow up given medical issues that arise with spinal cord injuries. However, he is willing to make each day matter, even if that means falling out of his FJ cruiser once in a while much to his wife’s dismay. And for that man in the handcycle pedaling alongside tired, wet, runners– he carried us all along with him yesterday just as the cheering fans and other athletes carried him.We understand. We are forever grateful to those people who help us to reach amazing places; we would never be able to fully experience adventures like this as a family if not for the people helping and pulling and encouraging along the way.

Heather Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 8 and 6.Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, @heatherkrill1 on Twitter, and, most recently added in the New Year, her Youtube channel “Writing from the Front.”

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