Last weekend, the third annual Gimps on Ice event brought about 15 disabled athletes to climb at the Ouray Ice Park, opening the minds of participants and spectators alike. The event is organized by Paradox Sports, an organization founded by Iraq war vet DJ Skelton and climber/comedian Timmy O’Neill, along with Ouray-based Amped Outdoors. In the past several years, Paradox has helped more than 500 people with equipment, training, and opportunities to re-enter the world of outdoor sports. “With each new event and participant, our goal is to use muscle-powered outdoor sports as a vehicle to heal and reintroduce as much of a normal life as possible,” says Malcolm Daly, executive director of Paradox. “In turn, these activities reignite each participant’s confidence.”
The extraordinary Boulder-based photographer Claudia López was on hand in Ouray and provided us with this small, inspirational gallery:
Chad Jukes lost his lower leg in Iraq in 2006 when a mine exploded under his truck. Since then he has climbed Mt. Rainier, rock climbed all over the U.S., and competed successfully in Nordic skiing. Last year he climbed Bridalveil Falls with blind climber Erik Weihenmayer.
Paraplegic Vijay Viswanathan broke his back in a rappelling accident. Afterward, he learned to ride a mono-ski through the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, and now he pursues multiple adaptive sports and volunteers for Paradox.
Christa Brelsford, a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University, lost her right leg below the knee in Haiti. She had been volunteering at Heads for Haiti, an adult literacy project, when the devastating January earthquake struck. A very strong rock climber before her accident, she began using a prosthetic seven weeks after the earthquake.
Maureen Whalley, a student at the University of Vermont, is missing her left arm below the elbow but still enjoys climbing, skiing, and hiking around Burlington.
Pete Davis (left) checks out crampon prosthetics with fellow climber Tom Carroll. Davis, a Paradox volunteer, was born missing most of his lower right arm, yet styles hard rock climbs and also loves skiing, snowboarding, and cycling. He took second in advanced rock climbing at the 2007 Extremity Games. Carroll is a prosthetist who volunteers with Eldora’s adaptive sports program.
There’s another gallery of good photos from Gimps on Ice at Michael Seamans’ blog.