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Build 'Handi-Raft': an adaptive whitewater cataraft

Organized by: Eric Thompson

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THE STORY:

I gave my heart to the mountains the minute I stood beside this river with its spray in my face and watched it thunder into foam, smooth to green glass over sunken rocks, shatter to foam again. I was fascinated by how it sped by and yet was always there; its roar shook both the earth and me.
- Wallace Stegner


Rivers and mountains are very influential in my life. If you are like me, then these are the places where our hearts feel most content. These are the beautiful, wild, and awesomely powerful environments where I once had the honor of guiding people into (and out of) safely.

After sustaining a life altering spinal cord injury in a motor vehicle accident, which left 2/3 of my body paralyzed, I knew I would not feel complete again until I was able to return to these places I love. Days after injury in the ICU, I began dreaming up designs to allow a T9 paraplegic (with little/no adominal muscle trunk control) to return to enjoying moving water...not as cargo, but as an independent paddler.

Since that time, I have been working with whitewater colleagues to create and test new tools that allow wheelchair users etc to access whitewater. We have created adaptive dry-suites, which protect against foot entrapment and skin breakdown. We have a prototype adaptive oar seat that stabilizes a paddler's upper body allowing them to effectively oar a boat...and now is the time to bring all the research and testing together and build the 'Handi-Raft'.

The Handi-Raft will include 10-12 foot long urethane cataraft tubes attached to a small gauge ultra-light aluminum frame with attached oars. The design is intended to allow paraplegic paddlers to flip their boat and quickly self-recover / return to their paddle seat unassisted. This boat will be made available for recreation/therapy purposes and will be used to demonstrate the potential for adaptive athletes and for progressing adaptive whitewater innovation.

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Organized by

Eric Thompson

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