Shelby and Carson were two of the dozens of local residents with physical and mental challenges who came to the tenth annual Mark Wellman’s Adventure Day. For a decade, the event hosted by the city and world-class paraplegic athlete Wellman has given northern Nevadans with handicaps a chance to try rock climbing, sailing, paddling and other sports using specially adapted equipment.
Wellman, a resident of Truckee, Calif., lost the use of his legs 30 years ago in a climbing accident. But being in a wheelchair hasn’t stopped his adventurous spirit. Since his accident he has compiled a resume that would impress even Indiana Jones. Last year, Wellman and friend John Arno, a paraplegic from Reno, skied to Crater Lake in Oregon. They each toted 20 pounds of equipment with them for nine miles and camped on the lake’s rim for two days.
On Sunday, Wellman was encouraging young and old alike as they scaled the rock climbing wall.
“If anyone comes to us at the climbing wall and wants to do it, we’ll make it happen,” Wellman said. Sunday’s climbers included a man who could only use one arm and a blind person, he said.
Carson Berek got a little help from volunteers getting to the top of the wall and ringing the bell. His mother, Pam, said this was their first year at Adventure Day and she was glad they came. She said exercise is helpful for Carson, who is otherwise confined to a wheelchair, to keep his muscles from atrophying. But that is no different from anyone else, she said.
“The more you can do, the better off you are,” Pam said.
Jill Benzing sang the praises of the local chapter of AMBUCS, a non-profit organization that over the last two years has donated about 80 specially designed bicycles to northern Nevadans who have limited mobility. Her daughter Shelby, who is in a regular first-grade class at Dunn Elementary School, was on her donated “AmTryke” on Sunday, which is equipped with pedals so she can move herself or Jill can push her from behind.
“It’s great because it makes her able to interact with her typical peers,” Jill said. “If they’re out riding their bikes, she has a bike to ride.”
Aaron Stevens, president of the local AMBUCS chapter, said the organization will give away several bicycles next weekend in an event at Lazy 5 Regional Park in Spanish Springs. The bicycles give children like Shelby a feeling of freedom that is an important part of everyone’s life.
“Every single person you know can remember how it felt the first time they rode a bike,” said Stevens, who is also an occupational therapist and makes artificial limbs and braces. “No matter who you are, you should experience that freedom.”
For more information or to make a donation to AMBUCS, email firstname.lastname@example.org or find them on Facebook.