Jenna Reed-Cote is totally badass. Her online alter ego and company- 'Phoenix Attitude' makes us want to get out there and get our hands (and the rest of us) dirty while conquering the toughest terrain. Her and her team 'Three Men & A Tough Little Mudder' recently completed a tough mudder - wheelchair and all. Impressed, we asked her to share a blog about the experience.
"Approaching one leg of our journey, the team found ourselves staring into the mouth of the forest - not a clear path in sight. Had a tornado just blown through?! There were sticks, logs, stumps and mud no matter which way we went (not ideal terrain for me and my chair). The three men (to my “Tough Little Mudder”) with the help of some other Mudders suggested that they pick me up (in the chair) and carry me all the way through. Nope! That was not going to happen. After getting so far, I was not going to have the boys try (especially on this terrain), have one or all of them step in the wrong place - leading us all to come tumbling down. So, after stalling (praying Arnold Schwarzenegger would roll through in one of his Hummers), I made the final call - I was bumming my way through the forest!
As soon as I got out of my chair and started with the actual “bumming,” I started thinking about whether or not “bumming” was even a word? And then I thought, “I hope that was just mud and not bear poop that I put my hand in.” Slowly but surely I made my way through the forest, bumming BACKWARDS so I could pull myself up and over things. Some times I would have to stand to get onto the the big logs to slide across to the other side. Some times I’d have to get back in the chair because the guys did have to lift me over certain areas (coming up with ingenious ideas along the way, like putting logs through my spokes and lifting me, like Cleopatra). At the very edge of the forest (on the OTHER side, because, yes, we did make it through), there was a near vertical wall of jagged rock that one had to traverse to make it back onto the trail. My reaction? Are there little children reading this…? Needless to say, my ego had to go out the window, letting a fellow Mudder, who just happened to be ex-Army, pick me up via the fireman’s carry to get me over the final hurdle - marking what was probably (only) the halfway point of Tough Mudder Half.
But why am I telling you this?
Why, out of all that makes up Tough Mudder, have I focused on my little foray into the forest? Because, my dear readers, the whole time I was merrily bumming my way along, I was hoping my gear would hold up. Now, when I say “gear,” I don’t mean my team shirt, and my pants because I was scared I’d end up with a big hole in the back, exposing my tush (although, that of course would have been bad). No, I mean my compression gear - shirt, pants and socks - that I wore UNDER everything that was made of medical-grade lycra and damn-near impossible to rip. You see, I have patch-sensation throughout my legs - some areas I can feel everything, and others…well, not so much. Had I not thought to protect my legs (before I even knew the forest was waiting for me), I could’ve gotten seriously hurt, possibly even realizing it too late. That’s just the reality of my situation - #paralysisproblems.
But I still wanted to be a Tough Mudder. Why? Because people with pretty serious medical challenges have a right to be daredevils, too! However, a daredevil with medical challenges can very quickly lead to a death wish, if they’re not smart about it. Sure, it’s annoying - scratch that - it’s freakin’ unfair a lot of the time, because you want to be spontaneous and follow your friends into the unknown. But you have to make it through one adventure (safe and sound), if you’re wanting to go on to the next.
In this case, based on all the sharp, dirty things that came into contact with my legs - my gear saved my life. Clothing has a lot to offer, it can make you feel: powerful, confident, vibrant, sophisticated, safe, fun, flirty, comfortable, normal etc. What I bet a lot of you don’t know, though, is that simple things can and need to be done to traditional clothing patterns so that people in wheelchairs get to feel all that clothes have to offer them - mind, body and spirit.
I want to celebrate all the designers out there who are tackling this niche market, creating clothes that let their wearers show the world who they are from the inside out! Let’s come together so that adaptive clothing industry explodes and becomes the ”norm,” giving us all an equal opportunity to feel: powerful, confident, vibrant, sophisticated, safe, fun, flirty, comfortable and normal (whatever that means)!
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