To the many who have made my trip to Minnesota and whellchair Sports camp possible, I must tell you my experience has been beyond belief! The camp is designed to promote disabled people to get active and involved. I cannot begin to explain the extraordinary accomplishment these peole do and the love and friendships you develop. At 52 years of age I completed my 1st 10 K in a hand bike as I am not able to push forward in a racing chair so some disabled are allowed to use a hand bike. The race ncluded many world class racers and us novices. My prayer was just to finish as I have had 2 heart stints and one week of training. 3 of us set a goal of 1 hour and 30 minutes as it is far more difficult than you can imagine. As we let the experts fly by, a small group of us would pool and then separate. My arm strenth helped me on approaches to downhill grades where I would make up lost time. But as we neared the finish we would stop for the others and ride back to push them along. If you want to see the kindred spirit and team work of some incredible people, this would be it. I learned that encourageing was far more important than myself. In the end those acts of kindness paid off and I just missed the one hour mark and was told that was incredible for a beginner of my age.The coolest moment was when the winner, a man from Columbia , who excells in wheelchair races rolled back 2 miles to make sure we were OK and not giving up. After pushing that hard he still had the kindness and energy to make sure we don't give up. Our motto was "Wheelers Don't Whine" Boy did us beginners fell like we conquered Mt. Everest. I wish some of our vikings player could see the attitudes and spirit if all these good people..
I went 3 for 3 in wheelchair softball, we shoot archery and will even be learning adapted water skiing and scuba. What these people accomplish has insired me beyond my wildest dreams. I have met the Para Olympian Soccer Coach from Nigeria for amputee soccer (amazing) and he learned of my coaching resume in the sport. I will be recommended to one of the US delegates doe coaching staff by him.
The humor and comraderie has been wonderful. The amputees have so much fun poking fun at themselves. One was batting and swung and missed. I told him to widen his stance ( he literally has no legs and plays on a modified skateboard and flys). He just cracked up. I was able to take my archery skills and worked with many on technique and I did so well I will be asked to help at other camps in the next couple weeks. It was a joy to help the little ones as it made me feel like a teacher again. smiles are the biggest reward in all we do.
I was able to get new Gophers Coach Jerry Kill to come and speak so that was exciting. And yes, I sported my Vikings gear in the race.
Thanks to all for a wonderful experience.