Filled With Confidence

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News August 2018

Camp Discovery is empowering female wheelchair users to try new sports while building lifelong friendships.

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S’mores, campfires and sing-alongs may come to mind when most people think about summer camp, but Camp Discovery offers even more than that for women who use wheelchairs for mobility. 

Each year for the last decade, a group of women has gathered in the mountains of Empire, Colo., just west of Denver seeking to break out of their comfort zones and make friends with other women who are in a similar situation. For three days, they get a taste of activities ranging from rock climbing, sailing, scuba diving and go-kart racing to yoga, handcycling, horseback riding and kayaking.

Trish Downing from Denver, a former competitive cyclist who sustained a T4 spinal-cord injury (SCI) in 2000 when she was hit by a car while she was training, started the camp in 2009 with the help of a grant from the Avon company. To date, the camp has served 80 women from 20 states and one from Canada.

After her injury, Downing began competing in para triathlon and became the first female paraplegic to finish an iron-distance triathlon. The 48-year-old also qualified in 2006 and 2010 for the Hawaii Ironman, competed in rowing and made the USA shooting team for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics.

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