Bouldering in Joshua Tree

Bouldering in Joshua Tree
Ronnie 15 feet off deck on the classic White Rastafarian.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gate River Run 2011

The next event up on the CAF Calendar for the year was Gate River Run. Gate River Run, in Jacksonville, Fl is the national 15k championship and draws a huge crowd of runners yearly. I was excited to be able to participate in the event this year as last year I was traveling through the Southeast filming for Amputee Climbing: The Ronnie Dickson Project.
The schedule of events was full for the weekend, starting with a reception at Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital on Thursday night. The reception was a great opportunity to meet many of the athletes with disabilities from the area and the staff from Brooks. Kelly Mione, director of the Florida Chapter of CAf, was able to get a couple of grants expedited and present them at the reception. Representing CAF were myself, Tim Huston, and Carlos Moleda. They have a huge group of wheelchair athletes in Jacksonville and I know that they were all really excited to get a chance to meet and hang with Carlos for a few days.

The next day I was hosting an adaptive climbing workshop at The Edge climbing gym in Jacksonville, Fl. We had a really great turnout being able to introduce nine persons with disabilities to rock climbing. The energy was really high for the whole clinic and everybody made it high up the wall! Climbing is a huge passion of mine and there is nothing that I enjoy more than sharing that with other people. It seemed like everybody had a really good time. I believe that climbing is a really accessible sport for people with disabilities and even if it is something they only do once it can help push their perceptions of what their limits are and help them through their everyday challenges.

The weekend finished off with the race on Saturday. There were several events happening that same morning. We had many people running the 15k through our Race for a Reason program, to help raise money for challenged athletes. Not only can you go out and do events all across the country and achieve your own personal goals, but you can raise money for a good cause too at the same time. It is a win-win situation! Melissa Stockwell and I were running the 5k together. She lost her leg in combat in Iraq several years ago. Melissa is an above the knee amputee and a phenomenal athlete. She has been to the Paralympics in swimming and currently aspires to complete a marathon. Her life keeps her busy as part of the board of the Wounded Warrior Project, athlete, and a Certified Prosthetist working in the Chicago area.

The 5k was exciting to say the least, about five minutes into the race Melissa had technical difficulties with her leg. Her pin unthreaded from her liner and got stuck in the lock on the socket. We stopped for a few minutes to try and fix the problem but could not get it unlodged. Thinking her race was over Melissa told me to go on without her. I crossed the finish a little after 30 minutes only to hear that Melissa got her pin unstuck and was able to continue running. I backtracked to find her and we crossed the finish line together. Just another way that running as an amputee presents with more difficulties than may meet the eye.
The last event of the day was the Brooks Rehabilitation Challenge Mile. Many amputees from the area and the wheelchair athletes gathered to show that when given the opportunity people with disabilities like to gather and participate just like everybody else.
I met Tim Huston, a six year old above the knee amputee through the facility where I work, Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates in Orlando, Fl a couple of years ago. He recently got running equipment and has not stopped since. He really loves running races and is like the little engine that could. Tim has done a one mile race before but this was his second one so a bunch of us from CAF ran with him. It was really inspiring to see him just take off and cruise to the finish even though he was dead tired.

Overall it was a fantastic weekend that I can’t wait to be a part of again next year. I am really looking forward to it! CAF managed to raise some money and hopefully we will get more support the next year.
Disability is a state of mind, and as far as I’m concerned I’m not disabled.
Take it easy!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gasparilla 2011 - Ronnie

 My first 5k Gasparilla 2008 running with girlfriend Amanda (In a C-leg, not a running leg)
I finished Gasparilla 2008 in about 38 minutes and was lucky to have the support of my family (The next year in 2009 with specialized running equipment I finished in 28 minutes)

Hey Guys, I am excited to make my first post on Drew and I's blog. I was really excited to run Drew's first 5k with him but Gasparilla also holds lots of memories for me because not only was it my first 5k but it was where I met the Challenged Athletes Foundation for the first time.

In 2007 it was about a year and a half after my amputation. I was a student at the University of South Florida and I was just kind of doing the whole college life thing without really being too deep into sport. My girlfriend is a runner and she was doing her first Marathon at Gasparilla 2007. To go support her I went along with her to the expo to pick up her race packet. As I was walking through the booths I noticed out of the corner of my eye a booth for a group called the Challenged Athletes Foundation. I went over and introduced myself and found out that they were a group that offered adaptive equipment and opportunities to athletes with disabilities to get back into sport. I had always wondered if I could run again, but never knew quite how to go about doing it.

 I guess you could say the rest is history. The next year at Gasparilla 2008 I ran my first 5k. I was really appreciative to have my girlfriend, Amanda, running with me by my side and I probably would not have made it without her. It is always nice to have somebody pushing you and helping you get your start.

I had been helping make Drew's legs for about a year and I knew he was ready to start running, so I guess I kind of talked him into it. It was really cool to run with him for his first 5k at the race that was my first 5k.

As an amputee its cool just to experiment around with a bunch of different things to find your niche, and while Drew may decide that running is not his favorite activity in the world, it is one more notch in his accomplishment belt.

The race was a blast this year, we got the chance to meet a phenomenal runner from up in Manhattan, Nick Roumanada. He started running almost two years ago as a BK and has not looked back since. I am sure he is going to do some really cool things in the future both in the half and full marathon's and really push some boundaries.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation had a great turnout of supporters who help us keep our organization doing what we do! Thanks to everybody who volunteered or donated money at the event!

Well thats all for now, things have been really exciting lately and I have lots of posts to catch up on before things are completely up to date!

Take it easy.

Life is 10% events, 90% your reaction. Live it to the Fullest.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Gasparilla 5k!

Hey so the Gasparilla 5k was awesome!  Ronnie and I had been planning to run this 5k for months ahead of time.  So Ronnie armed with his prosthetic skills fabricated me a new running socket and set it up with his running foot.  Of course we put this off until last minute so I only had a week to train but there was no backing out.  The first night I got out to run I only made it a half a mile, but the day before the race I ran 3.1 miles so I knew I was in good shape.  I was a little worried before the race started but in my mind there was no stopping, no breaks.  So I'm standing there with Ronnie and Nick.  Nick is an awesome below the knee amputee runner who had just ran the Gasparilla 15k before jumping in on the 5k with me and Ronnie.     We start out and I'm feeling great.  Ya know a nice view of the bay and a little conversation.  I think it hit me around the two mile mark... I started thinking about the finish line.  It was pure survival at the two and a half.  Of course when Nick or Ronnie would ask me how I was holding up... it would be "ahh yeah doing awesome"...."never felt better"........Lies.  The finish line was surreal.  People were everywhere and medals were being awarded... I was headed straight for the Challenged Athletes booth.  I knew there was shade and water... maybe some fruit.  But it was the best case scenario for my first race,  I couldn't have chosen a better team to run it with.