Ballin’

How about these warm days huh? It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact I no longer need a coat to go outside after that never ending winter we had. Needless to say, I’ve been spending quite a bit more time under the sun to say the least. For starters, some 4-H members made me an awesome raised gardening bed that is currently residing in our backyard and there are even things growing. Boom sauce! Mom, Ms. Florist herself was all like, “you better dig that up better” or “your rows aren’t straight” or “that’s not gonna grow” and now there are totally green things to show my way works just fine. I mean, yea, she was right, my rows aren’t straight and my carrots never germinated (whoops), but the radishes, beans, peas, or kolorabi don’t seem to mind…

garden

I guess I should admit to another gardening fail…I have tomato plants as well, but those are too tall to really have a heck of a lot of success in a raised gardening bed with a shorty like me taking care of them. So, we have separate pots that those dudes are growing in, but getting them there was a bit more of a challenge then it probably should have been. Mom was around doing goodness knows what in the backyard and told me I was okay to plant them in the big pot. Well, I missed the word “big” and saw these two lovely little pots on the ground directly in front of me and went to work. I had a nice little hole dug when Mom comes around the corner, see’s my awesome progress and goes, “What are you doing!?! I so wanna kill you right now!” Apparently, those two little pots were home to her calla lily bulbs that I had now graciously displaced onto the cement. Whoops. Mom claims it was sabotage… Lesson learned: listening is not overrated. But just for the record, the lilies I dug up and then got replanted are doing better than the ones I never touched. See Mom, trials can be good for things, they make you stronger:)

SEE! They're still growing...

SEE! They’re still growing…

Alright, enough green (or lack of green) thumb talk. So this past week I went to the National Wheelchair Sports Camp at Ironwood Christian Ranch in Stewartville, Minnesota. I had heard about it from a friend of mine and got myself (and Mom) all signed up. That went something like this, “Hey Mom, how old are you?” “__ years, why?” (Yea, I’m not gonna post Mom’s age online, I’m pretty sure I’m still making up for the lily incident and I don’t think that would help my case) “Oh, no reason, I’m just signing us up for a camp.” It’s amazing the gunk I drag her into…

We got to the ranch on a Thursday, to which Mom said we needed to commemorate with a selfie. I still can’t get over the fact she even knew what a selfie WAS…

Photo Jun 13, 3 43 51 PM

It was overwhelming to say the least, wheeling into a strange place where I was finally in the majority and it was the abled bodied individuals around me who seemed out of place. I guess its been so long since I’ve had that experience that I had forgot what it felt like to “blend in” which sometimes feels awesome. Now let me just say, I’ve never been to a sports camp in my entire life…band camp, yes, 4-H camp, yes, sports camp, ha! Funny joke. I know that first night after seeing all these confident and comfortable people around me, talking to their old friends and comparing racing gear for the 10k the following day, I was a bit on the terrified side. I mean, everyone I had met was super nice and welcoming, but they were so experienced and I was so, well, new.

I was up early the next morning to do the camp’s annual 10k. Most campers got in their racing chairs and recumbent bikes, all ready and competitive as I sat there in my everyday manual chair, feeling a bit out of place, but ready to give it a go.  It was only a matter of moments before the crowd of racers had surged ahead and it was just me and the road and all my thoughts of how stupid it was for me to think I was ready for a camp like this. But then I was joined by these two other wheelers, also pushing in their manual chairs. They were both obviously more experienced then I was but I kept pushing, just waiting for the moment that they too would pass me by. But you know what? That moment never came. Instead we pushed all 6.2 miles together, talking and listening to the stories each person had to share. Funny enough, one of the individuals was Brad Parks, the founder of wheelchair tennis, paralympic gold medal holder, and numerous other titles. The other individual was David Kiley, a wheelchair basketball legend who likewise has a collection of titles and paralympic gold medals. It was so great hearing about their lives and the stories about their paralympic experiences, and by the time we reached the finish line, I knew there was a reason God showed me to this camp.

Photo Jun 14, 10 18 55 AM

I feel like I could go on for hours, talking about everything I was able to do and try during the week at camp. I could talk about how awesome it was to go ziplining, how absolutely terrible I am at tennis (you have to start somewhere right?), and how much fun it was to play softball (even though it’s another thing I’m certainly not very good at). But I’m pretty sure pictures tell just as awesome of a story  and there’s a really sweet video the camp put together that I have to share with everyone. So here’s that link  http://vimeo.com/98612524  and the pictures…

camp

You know, it wasn’t the sports that made camp great, it was the people I was able to meet and talk with and learn from that really made an impact. When you live with a disability and spend your life with wheels attached to your butt, you form instant connections with people who do the same. It’s seriously a case of a kindergartner friendship, “You’re in a wheelchair?! I’M in a wheelchair! Let’s be best friends!” Well, at least that’s how I see it. I guess you just understand each other on a whole other level because you get and I mean actually get what the other person is or has gone through.

The whole week really was great, but my favorite part were those 6.2 miles on the first full day of camp. Being able to learn from and become friends with individuals like Brad and DK who know so much and are so willing to help and teach made my week. Their willingness to open up and share a part of themselves, whether that be their everyday life or their passionate faith in God, meant and always will mean the world to me.

Its scary doing things that are outside your comfort zone, but a new friend recently taught me
that is where the magic happens.

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4 thoughts on “Ballin’

  1. Katie Rickert says:

    Awesome post! You sure can express your experiences very well. Glad you enjoyed the camp. Keep moving on.

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