Here at Wolf Creek Outfitters, July is a month of “Giving back” to others. We were happy to participate in the Jicarilla 4-H Horse Camp earlier this month, and now we have been blessed by the visit of a group of near and dear friends from San Diego, California. We have been trying to get them to the gorgeous Rocky Mountains for years. Their son Tyler convinced them with a special request and made it happen.
Tyler is 17 years old and was born with spinal muscular atrophy, SMA. He was not expected to live beyond five years old. He is now going to be a senior in high school and is part of his school’s basketball and football team. Each day is a blessing to him. Tyler says, “Make the most of every day while you are here.” His mother, Gina, goes above and beyond to allow Tyler to experience as much as he can. Because of his and his mother’s hard work and determination, he has been fortunate to experience many great things and meet many great people.
This year Tyler told his mom he wanted to go white water rafting. She told me his wish, and Hank and I beamed. We know some very experienced raft guides that could grant this wish. We went to work immediately, planning the special ride down the river.
Tyler has steel rods in his spine and can not support his neck very well. It would be challenging to support him in a raft floating down rapids. Tyler’s mom was worried about jarring caused by rapids or rocks hurting him. Some rafting companies offer a fixed, rigid chair in a raft that a rider can be strapped into. We discussed this option and determined it was going to be best to use body support for our friend. This would allow him to “roll” with the waves instead of “crashing” against them.
Hank talked with the team at Flexible Flyer’s in Durango, Colorado. Together they arranged a float for Tyler down the Animas river. Tyler would be supported on either side by Hank, who has been a raft guide for over 20 years, and his friend Donnie, who helps with his home care. Their guide would be Stephen Saltsman, a 40-year veteran raft guide. His mother, Gina, felt confident he would be in good hands.
Tyler can mark it down in his amazing adventures that he, a young man with spinal muscular atrophy, has successfully gone white water rafting on the Animas River in Colorado!!! The smile says it all, and we are proud to have helped make it happen!
GET KIDS OUTSIDE!!!
Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast.
Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.
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