2024.0131 Jarrett Kipp NEWS

It’s About Community

Written by: Jarrett Kipp

It had only been two months since my injury. I was trying to learn how to live as a paraplegic at Sheltering Arms Institute when I first heard about Sportable. I was deeply depressed and dealing with debilitating nerve pain. I just wasn’t ready.

A few months later, I met a Sportable athlete at an event. We talked for 40 minutes about adaptive sports and I signed up for Sportable’s archery program on the spot. I ended up getting eight or nine bullseyes in my first session and having a blast.

Archery was just the beginning for me. I tried out wheelchair basketball, rock climbing, boccia, cycling, and wheelchair pickleball. Now I’m focusing on competing at a high level in three sports – archery, cycling, and pickleball.

I’m extremely competitive and I love competing but it isn’t just winning for me. It’s about community.

Even in high school, I battled depression. It got ten times worse after my injury. I lost 95 percent of my friends.

Through Sportable, I have made so many new friends. Participating in adaptive sports has brought the happiness back. I went from being completely depressed and lonely to being free from depression and having many friends. Being surrounded by positive people – athletes, volunteers, and staff – motivated me to strive for greater happiness and improved physical fitness.

I’m getting better and stronger every day. During my first cycling race, I finished 12 miles in 57 minutes. A few months later, I was riding 34 miles in 2 hours 25 minutes. I can play pickleball for three hours with zero pain.

I’m so much stronger outside of sports too. I can do pull-ups with my wheelchair attached to me. I can get in and out of vehicles by myself. I have more strength to walk. On my three-year anniversary of my accident, I walked 936 feet. I’m no longer drowsy or tired all the time. My energy has increased and I’m looking to get a job soon.

I love being a Sportable Ambassador now, attending outreach events and encouraging others with physical disabilities to try adaptive sports as well.

Recently, I was at Sheltering Arms Institute talking with patients who have acquired paralysis about what Sportable has done for me. It was a real full-circle moment. Three years ago, that was me at Sheltering Arms and now I’m here letting people know whether they walk or roll out of rehab, they have a full life ahead of them. I tell them I’m more comfortable with the person I am post-injury. I have good and lasting friendships. I live an active life. And I actually like the person I’m becoming. They can have that too.

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