Explore Northeastern Adaptive Sports Programs with Chris Collin
By Lisa Wells, Cure Medical
Adaptive sports expert Chris Collin knows firsthand that it can be difficult to find adaptive sports programs within a day's drive and that are also a good fit for your skills or interests. That's why we're sharing his advice below along with an invitation to meet Chris in person at the New York Abilities Expo on May 4-6, 2018!
Chris was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident 9 years ago in his hometown of Hollis, Maine. He went to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for rehab, with the goal of having as active life as possible after spinal cord injury.
An avid sportsman and outdoor enthusiast, today Chris is a volunteer, teacher and guide at Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation. He is a trained peer counselor at New England Rehabilitation Hospital working with small groups and individual visits, and he also assists the University of New Hampshire quad rugby team.
Chris also works at Cabela's in the hunting department, sharing his knowledge and love of the outdoors through his work. You'll find him outdoors often, pursuing his passion for deer, waterfowl, fishing, handcycling or adaptive skiing.
How Chris Collin Discovered Adaptive Sports
"I stayed in the hospital in Maine for 2 months after my motorcycle accident caused me to become a paraplegic, having several surgeries and waiting for a spot to open at the Shepherd Center. One of my parents was with me every day," Chris says.
Since I only had visited Florida in the Deep South, I thought traveling to Atlanta would be like visiting another country. However, after my Shepherd Center stay, I realized how amazing the facility and the people there were. They had a deep understanding of what I needed and how I needed to be rehabbed. At the Shepherd Center, I constantly learned more about how to do things I never thought I could do.
I was fortunate during rehab because I was given the opportunity to participate in many adaptive sports and learn about them. The Shepherd Center had information about facilities all over the country where I could participate in various sports, including one that offered skiing in Maine for people with disabilities.
Northeastern Sports Programs that Chris Recommends
The sports program I first learned about while in rehab is today called Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation. I got involved with that organization when I returned home and learned how to ski there.
I used adaptive ski equipment, and someone guided me down a hill as I was first learning. After 2 or 3 years of going to the slopes and skiing 3 to 5 times a year, I got my own monoski to use for alpine skiing or sit skiing.
Today I sit on that one ski and use two poles like able-bodied skiers do to maintain balance and to turn. However, my poles also have full skis on the ends of them. I've learned and improved so much that today I ski down double black diamond slopes!
More importantly, I've found a group of happy and fun people with injuries similar to mine who also like to get outside. For the last two years, I've skied 35 to 40 days each year. Initially, lots of people helped me get started. Then as I've felt more confident, I've taught other people with disabilities how to ski as well.
I also volunteer with Northeast Passage—an adaptive sports program in New Hampshire that empowers individuals with disabilities to define, pursue and achieve their therapeutic recreation and adaptive sports' goals.
Northeast Passage allows me to practice with its quad rugby team, which I truly enjoy! Quad rugby is a lot of fun, since the person playing can ram his wheelchair into other players. It's a high action, high contact sport.
Chris Collin Loves Adaptive Hunting and Fishing Too
In addition to playing organized adaptive sports, I also work at the Cabela's store near my home in the hunting department. During deer season and in the summertime, I work 28 hours a week. The rest of the time I work about 20 hours a week.
Not only do I sell hunting and fishing gear, but I'm also a big customer there too! I purchased a crossbow at Cabela's and that store visit along with subsequent conversations were what led me to my current position.
I've taken a moose while hunting on wheels, but mostly my focus is on deer. I've just started waterfowl hunting for ducks and geese. Rolling in the wild has been a great adventure! I fish more in the spring and summer, but even in the winter months, I go ice fishing.
My favorite fish to take is striped bass, with my biggest being a 34-inch striper. Luckily, I have a big group of close friends who also hunt and fish, and they take me with them anytime I want to go. I'm hooked on the outdoors!
I'm often asked, "How do you get around in the woods and on the water?" I have a Renegade wheelchair, an off-road wheelchair I love. When we go somewhere that the wheelchair can't go, one of my buddies just throws me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carries me. Sometimes two of my buddies help me.
They do whatever they need to for me to join in the fun with them—whether we're hunting or fishing. They're a real blessing!
Explore Adaptive Sports and More at the NY Metro Abilities Expo
If you'd like try out a new sport, or learn more about programs and products that can make it easier for you to be active on wheels, join Chris and crew at the New York Abilities Expo on May 4-6, 2018!
Chris highly recommends attending the free event, because "the Abilities Expo gives people the chance to see, touch, and interact with products and people that you don't get to experience every day, or sometimes anywhere else."
Some of the sports and events you can try or see demonstrated at the NY Abilities Expo include:
- Adaptive Climbing
- Wheelchair Skills Course
- Martial Arts
- Ride-Along Racing
- Adaptive Dance
- Quad Rugby
- Power Wheelchair Floor Hockey
- Wheelchair Basketball
For Chris, that's just one part of the draw of the event. He'll be on hand all three days as an Advocate for Cure Medical, a leading catheter manufacturer who is one of the national sponsors of the Expo.
"I'm hoping to meet all kinds of new people at the Abilities Expo to hear their experiences at the same time as sharing mine with them. It's amazing how much you can learn from each other, and the Expo gives us a chance to connect in person," Chris explains.
About Cure Medical:
Cure Medical is the only medical device company that donates 10% of net income from every catheter we make to fund medical research in pursuit of a cure for paralysis and urinary retention. Thank you for choosing a Cure! Visit Cure Medical in booth #111 at the New York Metro Abilities Expo, May 4-6, 2018.
Pre-Register for Abilities Expo Today...It's Free!