The first days after the accident felt bleak. “Nobody told me life could be fun again. There was not a single doctor or medical professional that said, hey, you can do this, you can do that.”
Ira was not just re-learning everyday activities, he was also re-learning how to manage his type 1 diabetes. His wife left. His insurance was limited to work-related expenses.
Ira turned to the internet, where he found the inspiration he was looking for. There were other athletes in the hospital. One was a snowmobile rider from Alaska who had been injured on the same day. They pushed and encouraged each other.
“I was still me, I just couldn’t do everything I used to do.”
Ira’s first piece of adaptive equipment was a hand cycle.
“As we all know in the world of adaptive equipment, it is not the same price as regular equipment. So I sold 12 bicycles, sold a bunch of my ski gear and got a grant from the High Fives Foundation. And that was how I was able to get a bike and start exercising again.”
Ira’s friends turned up every day for a bike ride. The exercise made a big difference, but so did the friendship.
“I had a lot of friends that made sure I had someone to talk to and spend time hanging out with every single day. So that helped a lot.”
Teton Gravity Research, a ski film company, helped fundraise for Ira to get an adaptive alpine ski.
“I spent a lot time in my life in the ski industry, helping people – not thinking that I was going to get hurt and need help myself, but the whole pay-it-forward concept, it’s truly there.”
Today, Ira is back alpine skiing but also nordic skiing. And he practices subsistence living in Alaska. He catches fish and seafood with his 21-foot boat and grows vegetables in his garden, where he’s built raised gardens and garden pots to make weeding easier.