Erik Kondo wins the 2015 GOEL contest with his photo side-wheelie through the Vermont forest during an event promoting off-road handcycling. Photo by Mike Hitelman.
Get Out, Enjoy Life: 2015 Winners
Get Out, Enjoy Life's fifth year attracts hundreds of adventure enthusiasts from around the world
It’s been five years since the birth of Get Out, Enjoy Life. At the time, social media for business was just getting going, and despite a 35-year presence in the wheelchair sporting community, the SPORTS `N SPOKES (S`NS) web and social media platforms were still finding an audience.
Across the country, in a little corner of Atlanta, Georgia, Lisa Wells was thinking of ways to engage the audience of Life After Spinal Cord Injury (LASCI) and called our production office with an idea to bring the readers of S`NS and LASCI together.
Wells outlined how both organizations could help encourage people with spinal-cord injuries and disease get out and be active despite their injury, and that their participation would in turn encourage others to do the same … and it would be fun.
Over the course of the year we plotted and planned on a theme, spent long hours working on a name for the contest and how to best promote the event. We researched accessible destinations from across the country and met with countless rehabilitation centers, hospitals and adaptive sports programs and invited them to become participating sponsors.
Soon, GOEL took on a life of its own and before long there was a host of wheelchair companies and sports equipment suppliers offering to donate their products as contest awards and prizes. It was an overwhelming process to coordinate all the moving parts of the contest, but the end results were rewarding. We got to really know our readers and were able to engage with them on a personal level and learned how they cope with their specific injuries and daily challenges.
“The GOEL contest allows us to serve the wheelchair community in two ways,” Wells says. “First, we’re able to provide our friends who use wheelchairs with ideas and resources to explore the world around them, on two wheels, in a way that is both accommodating and fun. Also, by sharing the pictures that GOEL participants contribute to the contest, we're encouraging other wheelchair users to get out of the house and try something new, through the visual example provided by people just like them. Both aspects help us improve the life and lifestyle of our readers.”
Since that first conversation, the GOEL contest has helped motivate people with spinal-cord injuries and disease venture out beyond their homes and challenge their personal limits through wheelchair sports, accessible travel and recreation.
For many of our readers, it was a welcomed mission. For some, the thought of living an active wheelchair life is still a new concept, and for those people, the idea of Get Out, Enjoy Life was born.
In the five years since the contest’s inception, we have partnered with Wheel:Life and the iPush Foundation, and invited some amazing businesses to join us, expanding the reach of the contest to all corners of the globe.
This year, our photo judges had to pour over the more than 500 images sent in from across the world. We saw people enjoying days on the lake, handcycling dusty trails and exploring windy river banks to name a few. They pushed their limits on the baseball field, defied gravity at the end of a bungee cord and made inaccessible paths accessible with sheer determination.
It’s safe to say that “disability” is a state of mind that gets crushed by those willing to get out and enjoy life.
Amanda Timms takes second-place with her photo "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," taken during a seven-day canoe trip around the Bowron Lakes in Canada. Photo by Zoya Lynch.
We’re pleased to announce the 2015 Get Out, Enjoy Life photo contest winners.
First-place winner Erik Kondo’s photo was taken in Vermont during an event to promote off-road handcycling for Stowe Adaptive Sports. Jimmy Savard follows close behind Kondo as he “side-wheelies” over the trails on his Bomber handcycle by Reactive Adaptions out of Colorado.
Kondo has earned bragging rights as his photo lands this month cover. When he’s not on the trails, Kondo will be rolling in a new PantheraX wheelchair courtesy of our friends at Triumph Mobility.
Kondo sustained a T4-5 spinal-cord injury from a motorcycle accident in 1984. He currently lives in Lexington, MA with his wife and three children and runs a small real estate business. He’s also the founder of the non-profit NOT-ME! www.not-me.org that provides education on personal safety and conflict management.
Kondo is also active in a number of sports that includes road handcycling, mountain biking, skiing, rock climbing and martial arts.
“My newest passion is electric longboarding, skateboarding and snowboarding from my wheelchair,” says Kondo. “I call all of these activities “wheelchairboarding,” and I have created a Facebook Page to promote this activity.”
Second-place winner Amanda Timm’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” photo was taken in the summer of 2013 by Zoya Lynch when a group of 12 friends and family gathered together to go on a seven day canoe trip around the Bowron Lakes in central British Colombia, Canada.
“A month before our trip, that part of Canada was in a drought but by the time we got there it poured rain for six of the seven days with another day of hail,” says Timm. “You would think that would have put a damper on things, but it was still one of the best adventures I've ever been on. Traveling by canoe I got off every beaten path and explored places I would have never been able to get to go otherwise.”
Timm sustained a T5 spinal-cord injury while participating in a big mountain ski competition in 2011. The then 17-year-old hit a tree when coming off a cliff. Timm continues to ski to this day, along with rock climbing, waterskiing, canoeing and rowing. “Really anything that gets me outside I love,” says Timm. “If I'm stuck inside there is a 99% chance I'm not as happy as I could be.”
Timm’s photo wins a spot in this month’s SPORTS `N SPOKES Final Frame. She also landed herself a brand new Top End Pro 2 sportschair courtesy of our friends at Invacare. And to keep her in the know, Timm gets a complementary one-year subscription to SPORTS `N SPOKES.
Kim Harrison’s “Target Practice” photo lands our third-place spot and a place on sportsnspokes.com “Spokes of the Week.” Husband Brian Harrison captured her winning photo during Shepherd Center’s Adventures Skills Workshop (ASW).
“I had never shot a rifle before,” says Kim. “Out of 20 shots I hit my target 19 times.”
Harrison’s injury is more of a mystery. While there was no specific trauma, she was fine one day and couldn’t move the next from T10 down. The condition is known as transverse myelitis – an inflammation of the spinal cord.
Harrison is one of GOELs better know participants, having shared photos almost since the contest began. She supports the work of The Shepherd Center in Atlanta and has participated in wellness clinics, played wheelchair tennis and has tried handcycling.
“In the past year I’ve lost more than 100lbs,” says Harrison. “Now I can safely waterski and take part in many of the activities at Shepherd Center and get the community involved.”
Harrison has participated in the “Roll on Capital Hill” and is a chapter leader for National United Spinal Cord Injury Association and is an activist for spinal cord injury and accessible rights.
She’s putting her skills to good work as a member of the advisory board for the Atlanta Braves new stadium construction as well as the Talladega Motor Speedway to help guide them with ADA issues.
Harrison will receive a new bodyboard courtesy of our friends at Bellyak. “I’m happy to submit photos,” says Harrison. “It’s interesting to see the comments by your followers and every year see the amount of participation grow and grow.”
Abby and Wyatt Banks are this year’s Participation Award winners, having submitted more than 50 photos throughout the contest. Abby and Wyatt will receive our Prize Pack and a $200 gift certificate from our friends at At Home Medical.
Wyatt is a two-year-old boy who was diagnosed with transverse myelitis at 7 months of age. His mother says he went to sleep healthy and woke up paralysed at the T2 level.
Wyatt participates in many sports clinics from wheelchair tennis to handcycles, has visited the Paracycling World Championships and participated in a Life Rolls on Surf event. “He absolutely loves the water,” says Abby. “He’d fall off, go under water and come up smiling.”
For Wyatt, life in a chair is a way of life. He doesn't have a concept that everyone didn’t start out this way. His mother reports that his first time in a wheelchair was shortly after his first birthday. “He put his hands on the rims and pushed,” says Abby. “Before Wyatt’s situation we didn’t know anyone in a wheelchair … it was social platforms like SPORTS `N SPOKES and Wheel:Life that helped guide us in the right direction.”
Special thanks to our grand prize and participating prize sponsors:
Second-place prize by – Invacare Top End
Third-place Prize by – Bellyak body boards
Participation prize by – At Home Medical
Daily Destination prizes by –
You can see all the photos in the sportsnspokes.com photo gallery.
If you're a business interested in supporting the Get Out, Enjoy Life contest, contact us at email@example.com