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diabetes exercise and sports association (DESA)

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Gravity Testers

Published in "The Challenge" put out by DESA (Diabetes Exercise & Sports Association)

"Gravity Testers"

The countdown begins and the anxiety meter rockets upward as the rope crew sends out a booming 5, 4, 3...My mind fights the battle to resist the urge to step off the narrow railing I had cautiously inched on to.  A nervous glance downward and I catch a heart pounding view of the Snake River flowing 500 feet under my tenuous perch.  There is a lot of air space between my frame and the water far below.  I take one more look at the array of crazy characters that have joined me in this unique sport of bungee jumping.  

Our take off point is the Perrine Bridge near Twin Falls, Idaho.  At 1500 feet in length, it is the longest span bridge in the West.  However, I am much more aware of the vertical qualities. 

My confidence in the gear and the experience of the crew puts me at ease in a sport that few venture into.  Today I am joined by some of my dearest friends who I trust will remind me to disconnect from my life support before the final countdown.  I doubt that my insurance would cover an insulin pump donation to the Snake River.

My leap of faith draws near.  Marcos Rojas of Over the Edge Bungee, a  close friend, is in charge of today's operation.  He spots the bungee as he echoes ..2...Fellow gravity tester Matt Score also joins us on the bridge.  Matt does a whirlwind of work with our No Limits group that was formed to promote, educate, and inspire an active, healthy lifestyle for all people with diabetes.  Bungee jumping is a unique fit to this equation.

The Biggest Danger in Life is Not Taking Adventures

I am constantly approached with the question of why a person would leap off of a perfectly good bridge.  Yes, the question has surged through my mind and fear is definitely a factor.  However, the fear of falling pails in comparison to the fear of missing opportunities to live life more abundantly.  George Mallory (of Mt. Everest Fame) stated it in terms that adventure seekers can relate to.  "The biggest danger in life is not taking adventures."

People tend to live life inside the limits of their designated "boxes".  Like many of you I deal with the barriers that diabetes can impose.  We are faced with physical, mental and emotional challenges that we must overcome to break the barriers the disease inflicts on on.

Letting Go

The count reaches..1...Despite firing nerves, jumbled thoughts and a nano second prayer, I dive off into space.  Gravity is now my partner as I accelerate towards earth at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

Despite some earlier reluctance and thought, I am now immersed in the moment as I put my arms to my side and do my best imitation of a torpedo.  I reach a split second where I am motionless then the stretched out cords recoil, sending me back toward the under carriage of the bridge.  After a number of rebounds I slowly reach a point where I am handing upside down and loving the moment, dangling about 250 feet above the river.  I can only smile as the retrieval rope is lowered to me.

More...Over the Edge

Further adventure took us to the Navajo Bridge near Page, Arizona where we connected with a film crew working for the Discovery Channel.  They took some great shots of our flights into Marble Canyon above the Colorado River.  A couple night jumps off a local bridge in Idaho added a different spin to our memories.  Leaping into a "black hole" was a novel experience for this gravity tester.

No Limits had their second fund raiser of the year (other fund raiser was a sky dive event) with a bungee jump off the Hansen Bridge (400 feet) near Twin Falls, Idaho.  We were fortunate enough to be featured in the Times-News newspaper (Twin Falls, Idaho) and had a very successful day with 13 jumpers, many of whom were first timers.  I especially love helping first timers.  What an experience for them!

Bungee jumping is not for everyone, but if you can muster the courage to escape your box for a little air time, you too can become a gravity tester.

Over the Edge Bungee - / 208-731-1648

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Dream Big and Take Action

This was published a few years ago but the encouragement still applies and the the dreams are still larger than life.
published in "The Challenge" put out by DESA (Diabetes Exercise & Sports Association)
"Dream Big and Take Action"

I made a commitment several years ago, because of my diabetes and the incredible life that I have been able to lead, that in spite of this disease and a busy schedule I would dedicate time to the diabetes community. The decision has reaped abundant rewards.
I am what you would describe as "outdoorsy" and "adventurous". I love physical activity. Trail running, mountain biking, cycling, climbing, bouldering, bungee jumping, sky diving, and slacklining are some of the pursuits I enjoy. No shock to anyone's system that my degree is in Exercise Science. Many of the listed activities are part of a diabetes outdoor group I started in Boise, Idaho called "No Limits". Our mission is to promote, educate, and inspire an active, healthy lifestyle for all people with diabetes.
I had been a card carrying member of the "you have diabetes" club for about 30 years and I finally decided it was time to take action. It was high time, after having Type 1 diabetes for a long time and having been assisted by others who had diabetes, that I stepped forward to assist those who could use a little extra help or encouragement in dealing with this sometimes difficult disease. No Limits has been an excellent venue for my background in diabetes, my passion to lend a hand and to my slightly crazy lifestyle.
We organized a No Limits skydive event fund raiser called "Dive for Diabetes". The event was a soaring (pun intended) success and surpassed our wildest expectations. We put our lofty hopes on having 60 jumpers and ended up with 134. We were 3 tandem jumpers from a Guinness Book of World Records. It appears to be the biggest skydive event in Idaho history. The day was jammed with activities for everyone.
Although, I missed out on seeing all those bodies falling to terra firma and catching the huge smiles, I managed my own smile as I was in West Chester, Pennsylvania attending the DESA (Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association) North American Conference to receive a DESA Athletic Achievement Award honorable menion.
The conference also triumphed in flying colors. Spending time around other athletes with diabetes and learning how they were using their talents to assist others and to hear about their goals and dreams helped reaffirm my desire to be of service in the diabetes world. I went home with many new, interesting and extreme ideas for athletic events/activities to organize on behalf of diabetes awareness.
On a personal note, I am still dreaming big. Really big. One of the dreams is to do a 50 State Bicycle Tour for diabetes.
I just returned from a 500 mile ride from Arizona to Idaho. The B-BAD (Border to Border Against Diabetes) Tour was a great warm-up and promoted diabetes awareness and No Limits.
Afterwards we presented our trek at the ADA Salt Lake City Diabetes Expo.
My dream (shared with my friends at Over The Edge Bungee-OTE) of doing a bungee jump off the highest suspension bridge in the world just came true. The Royal Gorge Bridge (1,053 feet above the Arkansas River) in Canon City, Colorado is rarely jumped and OTE was asked to be the sole bungee company on the bridge for the Go Fast Games. It was an unbelieveable experience.
Embracing the challenge that diabetes presents by striving for those dreams and by volunteering your time toward a local diabetes group, local hospital, health club, medical clinic, etc. can be an experience of a life time.



Cruisin Alaskan Water

Ethan gazing at Annahootz

"Cruisin' Alaskan Waters"

Touching down in the far outpost of Sitka, Alaska, I exited the plane and snagged one of the two bags from the conveyor belt. The other bag? The one filled with the most vital items for this new adventure? Missing, perhaps sitting idly in the Juneau or Ketchikan airport.

I had approached Sheldon Jackson College (SJC) in Sitka with a proposal to run a kayak trip for people with diabetes. Kayaking was new to me. Unless an adventure involves swimming or riding camels, I am generally game to give it a go.

I was here to ace the kayak route and plot the coming trip. I would be on the water with Ethan Ring from the Sheldon Jackson Outdoor Center. My goal (other than the already mentioned "swimming"), was to absorb knowledge on the fascinating sport of sea kayaking and plan the trip for a group to take place next summer. Ethan would learn all he could about diabetes (I just had to be my usual diabetes self) and what it would take to run a course for people with diabetes. It was a trial run, or shall we say trial paddle.
We would put our minds together during and after the expedition to organize a quality event.

My Perception Eclipse Kayak sat on the shores of Old Sitka a few days later, aimed at the incoming tide of Sitka Sound. The day before had been a scurried one as we shorted gear, filled out paperwork, purchased groceries, discussed plans, and yes, dumped Dave out of the kayak a few times for practice (and laughs). Thank goodness SJC has a pool, as Sitka Sound is on the frigid side.

I pulled the kayak forward and carefully deposited both legs into the bottom of the boat. I had previously done some "bunny slope" kayaking with someone else in a beast of a boat, on a calm lake. This would be different, way different.

I was quite amazed at all the storage the kayak possessed. I should not have been suprised when Ethan pulled out a huge 12-ounce container of Parmesan Cheese. Don't get me wrong, I love Parmesan Cheese, but living with a "lightweight" backpacking mentality, I was thinking more about throwing a couple packets stolen from Pizza Hut than including a 233-day supply.

Ethan had planned a route with some options depending on weather conditions, fatigue and diabetes management. Our first day would cover about 7 miles, the second woud be either 13 or 18, and the third would encompass 4. Sounds like decent mileage if your a strapped into a pair of running shoes, running or hiking or trails, but paddling? With my legs now useless, tucked into the bow of the kayak and unable to save me, I would rely on muscles that I knew about from anatomy and physiology, but had found little use as an athlete involved in leg-dominant activities.

Immersed in the moment and the stunning beauty of the Alaskan wilds, I got into a good rhythm with a dip of the right paddle, stroke, a dip of the left paddle, stroke. Ethan was an excellent teacher and I was feeling comfortable in my new H2O environment.

Our expedition participants were not just limited to both of us. We had a backdrop that provided lots of wildlife. There were numerous bald eagles, along with porpoises, seals, salmon, ravens, crows, cormorants, Sitka black-tailed deer and an occassional load of bear sign.

We pulled into an established site on Magoun Island to finish our first day. The setting was incredible, with a huge bald eagle commandeering a large tree at the entrance to the cove. He was very visible despite being almost 1/2 mile away. Ethan had me so impressed with his mastery of hanging a bear bag, that it became a Kodak moment.

Day 2 would be our day of decision, with two different mileage options, depending on circumstances. We reached Olga Point, a fork in the water, and made the bold choice to go the longer, more scenic route around Hallack Island. It was a glorious day with almost zero signs of civilization. Conditions can change quickly while roaming the sea and today would unveil choppy seas, wind in our faces and at our backs, changing currents and crystal, glassy waters. At the southern end of Hallack Island sits a beautiful kayak campsite. End to a perfect day, Ethan executed another bear bag trick. Dinner was devoured and life was being enjoyed in backwaters Alaska.

Day 3 we slipped out of our idyllic cove and into Sitka Sound. A short but scenic route would complete our loop. As we cruised along the shoreline, admiring the vast life attached to and floating within a few feet of the shore, we stroked past our first kayak-bound travelers. With the sound of pebbles grinding the underside of my vessel, the journey had come to an end. Less than one-half hour after exiting the kayaks,, conditions quickly deteriorated. The safe return of two adventurers and a 230 day supply of Parmesan Cheese.