August 24, 2016
BENEFITING: Paradox Sports
On March 20, 2011, I received a message that my twin brother, Dan, had been in a cycling accident and was at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital. Maybe it was a twin’s intuition, but as with a previous cycling accident he had before, I knew it wasn’t good. When I called the hospital, I learned Dan was in the trauma unit in critical condition. They weren't sure he was going to make it.
I got on the next flight to Arizona and headed straight to the hospital. As Dan lay in a coma fighting for his life, the last thing I worried about was the laundry list of his injuries. A meeting with the doctor the following day revealed the extent of nerve damage—a brachial plexus injury—resulting from the accident. Dan’s right arm, hand, and most of his right lung were paralyzed.
I broke down. I felt I’d wake up soon from this nightmare. The reality, though, was that Dan continued to fight for his life and I began the process of ensuring Dan would have the best care possible if he could pull through. The one source of lightness was playing along with him in the hospital room as the drug-induced delirium made him think he was in a bike race in Belgium and he shouted at me to go into the farmhouse to get his racing wheels as the nurses stared at me not knowing what he was talking about. Or when he thought the hospital was a conspiracy and we had to plan our escape. And when he would repeat "J-E-L-L-Oooooo" as I fed him Jell-O with our friend Jon. These funny moments helped us get through each day.
After a month, Dan was stable enough to be transferred to Craig Hospital in Colorado, an incredible hospital specializing in brain and spinal cord injuries. After a couple of months at Craig, Dan moved in with me in Boulder, where I became his caregiver. Though he moved forward in his recovery slowly but surely, depression crept in—something so common with trauma.
Our relationship became strained during that period of recovery, also very common when a family member is the caregiver. We would fly back and forth to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota so he could undergo experimental surgeries to try to regain some use of his arm, and I would work remotely in the waiting room and meet with his surgeons. Sometimes during these trips we would barely speak. We were simply trying to get through the days.
A couple of years later, while Dan was having dinner at Oak, a local Boulder restaurant, the bartender mentioned a local organization that creates physically adaptive sports communities, called Paradox Sports. Dan’s interest was piqued.
When my brother found Paradox Sports he "found his people" as well as a new outlook on life. Once an avid cyclist, Dan was now compelled to find new hobbies. Through Paradox, he discovered his love for climbing. And I finally saw a glimpse of the brother I once knew come back to life.
Over time we repaired our relationship and formed a deeper bond than we ever had before. In 2014 Dan and I were talking about how we would be celebrating our 33rd birthday, and he wondered aloud if he should go on a trip to climb the Grand Teton offered by Paradox Sports. He wasn't sure he could make it with his injuries. Having seen his recovery over the previous three years and his dedication when he was a cyclist prior to the accident, I had no doubt he could do it.
He decided to go on the trip, and successfully climbed the Grand. He was also part of the film, A Grand Pursuit. I was and am unbelievably proud of him. As a result of this trip, my brother now serves as an ambassador for Paradox, is a gear reviewer, and is pursuing a business degree. He has regained his passion for life. If it wasn't for Paradox I don’t think he would have found that passion as quickly or as fully. And without Paradox, I don't think we would have the brother-sister bond we have regained.
Now, I want to give back to this incredible organization by raising money and awareness for Paradox. The organization changes not only its participants' lives every day by helping them find ways to enjoy the outdoors with adaptive equipment, but also helps bring families like ours back together.
I think of Dan’s apprehension to climb the Grand, and use that as courage for my endeavor: to go for Leadwoman 2016. Leadwoman is an intense series of events within a two month period this summer including: a trail marathon (26.2 miles) on June 18th, a 50 mile trail run or mountain bike race on July 9th and 10th, a 100 mile mountain bike on August 13th, a 10k run on August 14th and finally, a 100 mile trail run on August 20th. It will be the most difficult endeavor I've attempted thus far in my life.
As with endeavors like Leadwoman, it takes a village to complete these events and I need the help of a village to reach my goal of raising at least $20,000 in order to help Paradox continue their programming which will empower people, like my brother, to have amazing experiences after a life changing event/injury.
Thank you in advance for your generosity in helping me reach my goal and supporting this wonderful organization. Even ten dollars will help give someone the chance to participate in one of these life-changing programs. Sharing this campaign on Facebook, Twitter, or with your friends and family will also have a huge impact.
I will post updates to this page along the way—please follow along!
All donations will go directly to Paradox Sports, a 501(c)(3). Your donation is tax deductible.
For more information on Paradox Sports please visit: http://paradoxsports.org/
To view the trailer for A Grand Pursuit please visit: https://vimeo.com/150638434
For more information on Leadwoman please visit: http://www.leadvilleraceseries.com/