I dare you to keep up
Extreme Abilities is a quality we all possess, deep down inside of each and every one of us, yet few discover that it really exists, let alone dig it up and utilize it. It is a term I have used to describe the strength some of us have tapped to go out and do the things we love doing, or always wanted to; the determination to grab hold of adventures and to explore beyond our physical and mental boundaries. I have always been a person to push the limits within myself. As a child, I grew up on a small "hobby farm"in western Michigan where we had a couple horses, a couple dozen chickens, goats and the typical dogs and cats running amuck in the pasture. This is where I believe my determination was born. I was maybe 6 or 7 years old when I was in the pasture riding our thorough bred Dancer around bareback as my mother took care of some of the chores. When Dancer spied my mom bringing around some feed he got a hit excited and bucked me clear off. I landed on the ground flat on my back, hitting the small of my back on a stump cut off at the ground that the dirt around it had been washed away a bit. It knocked the wind right out of me, and yeah, I did cry for a moment as my mother came back to check on me, but I got right back on that nag and kept riding. So, I lived the cliché saying. I was literally thrown from the horse and got back on.
About that age I had got into sports of all types, from tittle league baseball to wrestling, track, basketball, motocross, ATVs, and so much more. I had developed a craving for adrenaline, first in the form of competition, then evolving into more daredevil stunts. A monster was created within me. I had to get my fix and as I got older it morphed into a desire for self discovery and knowledge that still drives me to this day. My freshman year in high school, I was asked to join the soccer team by a good friend and marching band mate of mine. I decided I would give it a try. Little did I know that it would become a full on passion. I dove, head first into the sport and trained, played and learned all I could. It consumed my mind and every waking moment 1 could spare. I played three separate seasons during my freshman year and the fall season again with my high school team, then entered training-mode for the upcoming indoor turf season. One day, towards the beginning of December my sophomore year in high school, not a month after my 16th birthday, I had finished my school day and a training session in the gym and headed home for the day. I never made it home that day. About a mile and a half from home I lost control of my car on an icy curve and careened into a tree, crushing the roof of my car down against my back shattering two vertebrae and severing my spinal cord between my shoulder blades. Once they were able to extract me from the wreckage, I was rushed by the paramedics to the emergency room and spent the following 5 days in an intensive care unit (ICU) and another 6 weeks in a rehabilitation hospital. Realizing this was probably going to be the end of my soccer career I decided to see what other fund I could have. I still needed to satisfy my craving, my adrenaline addiction. Thankfully, I had the support of my family, friends and even my therapists. After taking a number of different outings while still in the hospital, I was enlightened to the world of wheelchair sports. In 1994, when I was first injured, there were only a few sports out there for people with spinal cord injuries. 1 started out racing wheelchairs in road races next to able-part of a national championship team. Then off to college in Arizona, where I continued playing basketball and dabbling in tennis and any other sports I could, in exhibitions and at sports camps. l have volunteered at and worked as a counselor for a few different camps across the country. Over approximately 10 years, I was privy to almost every “Wheelchair sport” there was. I then unearthed more and more activities that not too many people knew about which had been adapted for people with disabilities to compete in, or even just take part in. I started attending rock climbing clinics and then joined groups like the Dive Pirates Foundation to get SCUBA certified and go diving With them down in the Cayman Islands.
Then, I Went to DeLand, FL as a mentor for the Wounded Warrior Project to their annual skydive boogie event. l was asked to be the keynote speaker of the Disability Connection’s inaugural conference in Michigan telling some of my tales of adventure and activity. Over the last few years, I find more sports and activities are becoming available out there for my “need for speed" so to speak, to get quenched. I even threw my cards on the table and started racing handcycles competitively along-side the many other serious competitors racing in marathons across the country.
I unfortunately, notices that there still isn't an abundance of information out there for the like-minded, thrill seekers and what is out there is tough to find at best. This has been a major drive of mine to share my experiences in the hopes of others following in my wheel tracks or blazing a trail of their own. In 2007, I started a website called eXtreme abilties as a showcase for all the things that I was out doing -- from traveling around the globe, rolling my wheels in multiple different countries (i.e. France, Australia, China, Switzerland, and Germany and many more), to participating in many different adventure-type activities including snow skiing in Montana and car racing in New Hampshire with the Accessible Racing program. I wrote about all that I could, providing basic information: if a place was accessible or not and also the tips and tricks I had learned along the way. Some of my writings were published in disability magazines such as: Venture Travel Magazine, Chloe Magazine and Active Living Magazine. I traveled to 15 different countries in three years, keeping a travel journal and grabbing at every opportunity I could in every location I went. I wanted to do my part to ease the search for information.
Over the years, I have had an absolute blast and met so many great people in my travels. I've found that there is really no limitation to what people can do. I have found adaptations for almost everything I have ever wanted to do. Now, I have even put myself in the position to provide not only the instruction and information as to what is out there but I can actually build it as well. In March of this year, eXtreme Abilities took the course of natural progression and I started a business with a good friend of mine in Santa Barbara, CA designing and building the same gear I and my friends had been using over the years. Evolution Fabrication, LLC was formed out of my own desire to help get people out doing the things I always talked about with the eXtreme Abilities website. I was a draftsman all through high school, working on both architectural blueprints and engineering designs. Ever since I was young I have been the athlete using the equipment. Now I get to actually make the equipment for others to use. In the coming year, 2013 will be a time filled with wild, outdoor adventures planned all around the world. I am looking forward to stepping up the challenges and pushing my limitations once again. I am working at lighting a fire under people to experience the things they dream of and in the process gain the knowledge about themselves and the world around them. I find myself in a great position to do this for people with and without disabilities alike. I hope to inspire anyone and everyone I can to push their own limits and live a more fruitful life. I dare you to keep up!
BY DOMONIC Corradin presented by Chris Rohan
Push Rim did an in depth interview discussing his recent trip to China
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