Tanelle Bolt struck the river surface with a crack. She was in her prime – young, physically fit, confident, and bold.
She was the girl that rallied her friends to go adventuring – the wind that gathered everyone up and carried them away camping and boating.
She was wild and free, an A type with energy radiating off her lean muscular body. The bridge she once stood on, now 60 feet above her limp body, was now the scene of a nightmare.
”The $300 of hockey tickets got me nowhereTanelle BoltRAD Society Founder
“I believe I hit something slightly submerged floating down the river. I sustained a complete spinal cord injury at the T6 level which means I’m a paraplegic with no feeling or function below nipple level, “ the 31 year old states this almost mechanically, as I start to get a sense that she is one determined and positive Canadian.
As I dig deeper though, I discover the all too common barriers that Tanelle came up against and the frustrations that led her to innovate and take action.
“Because I had a recreational accident I had no insurance coverage so even though there is a public system in Canada there is really no support for somebody that’s too able, especially not for getting back in the outdoors.
There are organizations in Canada that offer things but it’s not equipment grants or used equipment, it’s hockey tickets. Well I I’m not a hockey player. I’ve never been keen to sit in a cold arena for three and a half hours to drink draft beer.
The $300 of hockey tickets got me nowhere. But I would love $300 towards a freewheel to go to the beach or a beach mat which makes it accessible at the beach,” she explains.
Tanelle eventually discovered B.C Adapted Snowsports and U.S. based Challenged Athletes Foundation and High Fives Foundation, who have helped her learn to ski and surf competitively, however they aren’t able to help everyone, and competitive sports aren’t for everyone either.
Tanelle even admits she felt out of her depth ski racing and has the injuries to prove it. “I’ll push my own limits, but when I go and try and keep up with everybody else, as my last four years of injuries has proven to me, it’s not healthy.
”One time I crashed so hard on my sit ski, I broke my helmet into three piecesTanelle BoltRAD Society Founder
At the heart of it, Tanelle just wants to enjoy the outdoors on her own terms, but the high price of specialist adaptive equipment and the limited ways to trial or borrow the equipment forced her to settle for prescribed programs which weren’t always ideal, enjoyable or within geographic range.
Being impatient and driven are typical characteristics of an entrepreneur, and whether Tanelle sees herself this way or not her actions fit this description perfectly. She is the founder of British Columbia based Recreation Adapted Society (RAD).
Her dream is to one day have a warehouse full of adaptive sports and recreation equipment to help people with physical disabilities select the right equipment for their needs, and rent them out so they can use them wherever they like.
RAD has a selection of equipment already, is growing fast, and has a strong community. If anyone reading can help, then Tanelle would love to hear from you.
Speaking philosophically about where she is now Tanelle reflects, “I get to surf and I get to ski and I get to make a difference in the world which I wasn’t doing before my injury.”
When asked what advice she would give someone looking to get in the outdoors Tanelle encouragingly says, “Don’t be shy. People really will help. You have to ask for it. And you have to follow up more than once”
Thanks Tanelle, your persistence and drive to solve a problem will bring joy to many in the years to come. You’re an Adaptdefier through and through!
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