Editor’s Note: No one goes through life without problems. However, the living of life isn’t about the problems you have, but rather what you do with those problems and how you turn a disadvantage into an advantage. Once you look around and see the difficulties other people are facing, you’ll recognize that the things you’re dealing with aren’t nearly as important or as tough as problems other people have. But another key part of having a great life is seeing and learning how others have dealt with their physical challenges, overcome them and used those challenges for the betterment of mankind. This is the story of Karim Ladki of Vancouver, Canada, the founder and owner of 9Lives Adventures, Inc., who has decided to give everyone the adventures they seek, regardless of their physical concerns. Part 5 of a 5-part series.
Not everyone wants to participate in extreme sports like bungee jumping and skydiving. For that person, we have what’s called the RPM Rush Tour, which is a 3-day 2-night trip that includes jetboating, riding an ATV up to the top of a mountain and enjoying a freshly caught baked salmondinner. The jetboating is much like a theme park ride. It’s really exciting being on a river in a boat that can run 40 miles per hour or faster and do a 360 turn in rapids and run it up waterfalls. After that adventure, you either can drive or ride behind someone who’s driving up a mountain on an ATV and have a scenic dinner, while looking at an awe inspiring view from the top. The RPM tour is a great way to get your feet wet (not really!) and taste what high adventure sports involve.
When we go to the mountain, we ride four wheelers that have automatic gearshifts, so you don’t need any legs to ride these quads. They all have hand controls, and you control the vehicle with your thumbs and your wrist. As long as you have some upper body strength, you can operate these quads by yourself. One of our rides is up Blackcomb Mountain. You come down the mountain on your ATV, after eating dinner. The entire trip lasts about four hours.
One of the activities that our clients really enjoy is the wind tunnel flying that we do inVancouver. They get out of their wheelchairs and learn how to fly with no one around them. They experience what skydivers feel and learn to maneuver their bodies in the wind. In the wind tunnel, there’s no plane or parachute, you just feel weightless. Wind tunnel flying is about as free and liberating as any activity we have.
The most exciting part of this adventure for me is to see our clients flying in that wind tunnel and looking back at their wheelchairs with no one sitting in them. They can ride the wind tunnel as many times as they want to, and we use it to teach people with physical challenges how to skydive. Your first trip into the wind tunnel usually lasts about four to eight minutes, and you can learn as much as you want to about flying. You actually can feel what skydiving or BASE jumping feels like.
Snowmobiling is another fun winter activity. Everyone has his or her own snowmobile or can ride with an instructor. Each snowmobile adventure is based on what type of conditions we have on the mountains each day. We also teach sit-skiing and para-snowboarding, also known as adaptive snowboarding. We teach people how to go up a mountain and snowboard or sit-ski, depending on their physical challenges. We’ve partnered with Whistler Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Programfor this kind of tour.
We’ve also created the first wheelchair skateboarding course in Canada. We have competition in wheelchair skateboarding and hope to have sponsors. In a controlled environment, disabled people can learn how to drop in on a ramp and skate on a wheelchair.
9Lives Adventures is continually growing. As we learn about more activities that people who are physically challenged can participate in, we’ll learn how to adapt and create more programs. We truly believe that there are no limits. This year, we’re hoping to get into Whistler’s Powder Mountain heliskiing. Individuals will be taken to the top of a mountain to a helicopter, and skiers will get to ride the best snow down a mountain.
Don’t like that? There’s always Jet Boating!
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com