2023.0217 Ricky Jones NEWS

Discovering Sportable Was A Game-Changer

By: Ricky Jones

I’m pedaling down a scenic trail, feeling the wind on my face, and experiencing a sense of freedom I haven’t felt in years.

A decade ago, I didn’t think this would be possible again after a tractor-trailer accident nearly took my life. I’m still dealing with multiple injuries including head trauma, chronic pain, and navigating life with a prosthetic leg and wheelchair. And I wasn’t ready to give adaptive sports a try. Until last summer.

Discovering Sportable was a game-changer.

Before my accident, I enjoyed cycling so I decided to try Sportable’s cycling program. I hadn’t had any experience with accessible equipment before. Sportable had a variety of bikes and I was fitted with a hand cycle that met MY needs. The people out there were really helpful.

Once I found the right cycle, I tackled the Capital Trail at self-propelled speeds I hadn’t experienced in years. I was hooked. Each session I got better and my endurance increased. In spite of my challenges, I found ways to push myself. I asked myself ‘what’s next?’

My grandson is my shadow. He tags along with me when I volunteer at Sportable Spokes practice. It was never my plan but I think I’ve become somewhat of a role model for them. They all want to shoot the basketball. When they get frustrated, whether it’s basketball or life in general, I tell them, ‘Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll be among the stars!’

I’ve also recently gotten involved with rowing and just competed in my first-ever para competition – the Erg Sprints 2023 in Alexandria. I brought the gold medal for the PR3 Masters 1000 Meter home to my grandson.

I’ve enjoyed so many new sports with Sportable but it’s the MENTOR program that really taught me so much.

It’s an 8-week virtual wellness program for people with mobility limitations. I’ve tried virtual things in the past… it didn’t work out. This is a comfortable pace and it works! The instructors are there with you, explaining and showing. The passion they have for what they are doing and how they relate to the participants—you can feel the care and sincerity with what they’re doing.

I learned so much about exercise, nutrition, and breathing. I’ve been trying to implement the breathing exercises when I am at the YMCA and when I’m erging with Sportable. The breathing exercises have really helped with endurance. I don’t get winded the way I used to.

This program has connected me to a community of people I didn’t know existed. I’ve made some great friendships with people who have a shared experience. I’ve lost 50 pounds. I’m spending less time using my wheelchair and more time walking with my cane.

An injury is never expected… the will to get better and the will to live is still there. It is a continuous climb, but you keep going. I’m not out of the woods, but it’s all about how it is managed. When I’m up, I take advantage of the moments and opportunities—and a lot of that is because of Sportable.

Having good people in your circle is a wonderful thing.

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