01 November, 2008

Somebody We Should Know

You may have noticed the blogging has been a little sparse around here lately. *cough, cough* That's because I've been writing things like the following, instead. Funny how writing for a living makes writing for a hobby a lot less attractive... It's worth a read, though--not for the pedestrian prose, but for the impressive person it attempts to highlight.

Veteran Paul Christian is on a mission... from his wheelchair. Paul will be spending the next eighteen months traveling the U.S.--alone--to meet with fellow wounded or ill veterans and other people overcoming disability. He will be blogging his preparations and the trip itself on his website, Seize Adventure, as he speaks to veterans groups about the technology and benefits available to them, volunteers at the Disabled Veterans Summer and Winter Sports Clinics, and volunteers at both the 2010 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, Canada. He also hopes to visit much of the the American countryside and its people, whom he has spent so much of his life protecting as a soldier and defense contractor.

A quadriplegic due to his service in the Army as part of Operation Desert Storm (1991), Paul is motivated by the challenges he sees the current generation of severely-wounded veterans facing. He wants to show them that debilitating injury or disease does not mean the end of independence and accomplishment. As he writes on his blog, "We do not have to lay in bed hating life...If you’re willing to reach out and grab ahold, you can still Seize Adventure."

Paul's attitude wasn't always so positive. After he was paralyzed, he at first spent a lot of time laying in bed, unwilling to pursue the physical therapy that could improve his condition. He rarely left home, seeing himself as entirely dependent on someone else to go anywhere or do anything interesting. That perspective changed when a friend pointed Paul to the website of adventurer Ben Saunders, who at the time was in the middle of a solo trek across the North Pole. On impulse, he emailed Saunders, who took the time to reply from his position at the Pole and encouraged Paul to get back to physical therapy in order to regain as much mobility and independence as possible.

Paul now considers Saunders a mentor and credits that email with a major shift in his life. He writes, "If it hadn’t been for that message from Ben, I may not be in the position that I am now. While I am still paralyzed, that physical therapy was crucial in getting back a lot of movement and self sufficiency...Now I find myself on the cusp of this great adventure."

In preparation, Paul has worked with a number of individuals and companies to modify his vehicle, his equipment... even his clothes, so that he can completely dress and care for himself independently. He is also in the process of lining up sponsors, including Kobold Watches, PerMobil Wheelchairs, Soldiers' Angels, and his local American Legion post, though additional sponsors are still needed. If he is able to get the rest of the sponsorships required, he hopes to seize his adventure beginning early in December.

For more information and to follow Paul's progress, check out Seize Adventure!

If you know anyone who might be interested in sponsoring Paul, please pass the word!