Everyone knows that I like to push myself further. I am a “no limits” kind of guy. That goes for anything, especially sports. So, in September, when I had the opportunity to join a group of veterans at Trout Lodge, it was a no brainer!
Every year, Trout Lodge hosts an event called Veteran Outdoor Adventures. This event is free and is open to veterans with spinal cord injuries from all over the country. I spent three days with an amazing group of people, participating in accessible sporting activities. Located in the eastern Ozark mountains in Potosi, Missouri, Trout Lodge is a beautiful place. It’s nothing but forest and hills for miles. They have a private lake too! It’s a great place to find out just how far you and your body can go.
The great thing about this whole experience is that there is such a variety of sports available for veterans to try. We’re talking accessible skiing, fishing, tubing, kayaking, trapshooting, archery, ziplining and rock climbing. There were also virtual reality activities, such as virtual boxing and wheelchair driving. Many of the vets are unable to do the things they love anymore because of their spinal cord injury, so this provided a real opportunity for them. And some of the group had a chance to try something they’ve never done before or would never even consider doing with their injury.
I am the kind of guy that pretty much tries anything once. I’ve done trapshooting before and did it twice at Trout Lodge this year. Trapshooting is basically shooting at saucer-shaped clay targets. I like it because I am good at it and comfortable with it. It’s easy for me to elevate my Edge 3 Power Wheelchair with iLevel® so I have a better view of the targets.
iLevel was also helpful when I tried archery. I’ve figured out how to use my prosthetic to clamp on and hold the bow while using my good arm to notch the arrow. I pull back the bow, line it up and release! If I am competing in archery, I use a device that a lot of archers use to hold the string while pulling it back. It attaches to your wrist and is pretty cool.
Of course, the weekend is also about pushing your limits, right? I am all for that! So, I tried accessible skiing for the first time and used a sit-ski. Sit skis are good for quadriplegics or people who have spinal cord injuries or balance issues that prevent them from being pulled behind the boat while standing up. With a sit ski, a cage or seat is attached to the top so I can remain seated while skiing. It was pretty amazing and I was surprised how well it worked for me. I killed, shredded and wiped out. It was fantastic.
As much fun as I had, the best part about the weekend was watching the other vets do the activities they’ve missed doing or try something for the first time. It’s amazing. When they discover they can still do the things they love, you see the fire start to burn in their eyes. There is nothing better than that.
About Bryan Anderson: Bryan grew up and resides in Illinois. Injured by an IED in October 2005, Bryan is one of the few triple amputees to survive his injuries in Iraq. He is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for USA Cares, which is focused on assisting post 9-11 veterans. Click here to learn more about Bryan.