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Thread: People of all physical abilities get their minds in shape to fulfil outdoor adventure dreamsテつ*

  1. #1

    People of all physical abilities get their minds in shape to fulfil outdoor adventure dreamsテつ*

    People of all physical abilities get their minds in shape to fulfil outdoor adventure dreamsテつ*
    Canadian Press

    Sunday, June 23, 2002

    TORONTO (CP) - After losing the use of his legs because of polio, Eugene Besruky thought his adventurous side was dead. Twelve years ago, the Ottawa resident pumped up his courage, stamina and upper-body strength and took a canoe trip with other adventurers - both with and without physical disabilities.

    Besruky has gone on several trips since, including a four-day excursion along Lake Superior north of Minnesota and a 17-day "canoe-a-thon" manoeuvring river currents through the Yukon.

    "The whole idea is to do the best you can according to your ability," Besruky, 52, said by phone from his office at Industry Canada, where he is an investigator.

    The trips were organized by Wilderness Inquiry, a U.S. group with Canadian links that integrates people of all walks of life for canoeing, kayaking, hiking and other expeditions. There are dozens of groups specializing in outdoor programs for the physically challenged - a far cry from 30 years ago when such a concept was virtually unheard of.

    Wilderness Inquiry emphasizes mixing the disabled with trip participants who have no physical limitations.

    Besruky says canoeing has helped build his upper-body strength, and after each excursion he usually drops a few pounds. Most importantly, he says, living his canoeing dreams alongside people with a range of abilities helped give him the confidence to travel on his own.

    For instance, in recent years he took up scuba diving in Belize. To help prepare for the underwater activity, he linked up with an instructor from Cleveland who trains scuba divers in wheelchairs.

    Founded in 1978, Wilderness Inquiry organizes dozens of trips in Canada, the United States, Australia, Costa Rica and other countries for more than 45,000 men, women and children annually. About one-third have a "disabling" condition, the group says.

    Among the Canadian adventures this summer is a $600 US canoe trip for six days through northwestern Ontario's intricate web of lakes, rivers, streams and bogs in an area known as White Otter wilderness; and a $675 US kayak run over five days through the Broken Group Islands - a maze of more than 100 islands and islets on the coast of Vancouver Island.

    Each trip has trained leaders - a couple for each dozen or so participants - who teach water-manoeuvring and other techniques, including how to turn over a capsized boat and how to handle paddling through different weather and water currents. The leaders also ensure no one is exceeding their physical capabilities.

    For instance, on one of Besruky's trips, there were two other people in wheelchairs, a blind person and seven "able-bodied" participants. Because Besruky has a severe spinal curvature, he couldn't paddle full time, so he was teamed with someone in his canoe who would take over paddling when he needed a break.

    Ann Bancroft, 46, of the United States and Liv Arnesen, 48, of Norway are among elite paddlers motivating the disabled to follow their outdoor adventure dreams.
    Last year, the former schoolteachers became the first women to ski across Antarctica. Now they're working with Wilderness Inquiry to promote canoeing at public events as part of their six-week kayaking journey through the Great Lakes. Their 3,200-kilometre journey began May 17 on the North Shore of Minnesota and ends on the St. Lawrence Seaway in Cornwall, Ont., at the end of this month.

    Before a recent public canoeing event at the Toronto islands, Bancroft said although paddling requires endurance and strength, negative attitudes are the biggest barrier to anyone chasing their dreams to conquer the wilderness.

    "People with disabilities of one kind or another, particularly those with severe disabilities that require them being in a wheelchair, have been told that the wilderness and those kinds of physical things are off limits," she said from her home in Scandia, Minn.

    "We say the contrary. If you work together, you can go anywhere. If you've got the spirit, you can find the way. Sometimes, it may involve adapting a paddle so someone who only has the use of one arm can use it, other times it may mean pairing a paraplegic with someone who's blind in a portage, so they can work together."

    Mark Murphy, one of the Canadian volunteers with Wilderness Inquiry, learned the value of teamwork after his son Andrew fulfilled his dream of going on a canoe trip through Northern Ontario, despite having no use of his arms and legs because of cerebral palsy.

    Murphy, retired president of a health-care company who lives in the Muskoka community of Bala, Ont., has set up an endowment fund in memory of his son, who died at 24 eight years ago. Each year, the fund underwrites scholarships for low-income individuals to participate in Wilderness Inquiry trips.

    Murphy said Andrew was integrated into a regular school, so he wanted to be with a mix of people while enjoying the outdoors. On his eight-day canoe trip through Northern Ontario, Andrew couldn't paddle himself, but he would read a map to a companion assigned to him who would then do the physical work.

    "For Andrew, it was all about being with other people and outdoors," Murphy said.

  2. #2
    Is there a website for this group? I couldn't find one.

    Onward and Upward!

  3. #3
    Senior Member JimD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Long Island, NY

    wilderness inquiry

    Their website is
    They have a toll-free number also: 1 (800) 728-0719

    I first found them through a link on the disabled sports usa site:

    I haven't taken any trips with them yet, although I was registered for a Yellowstone park canoe trip last summer; I spent the cash on a hand-cycle instead. However, I did find that the people I spoke with were very helpful and willing to work with whatever needs or limitations one might have.

    Have fun!

  4. #4
    Thanks Jim D. Much appreciated.

    Onward and Upward!

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