Nothing slows down avid adventurer Chris Collin, especially not his SCI. In this article, he discusses his favorite adaptive sports and how he stays physically active with a spinal cord injury. Follow along to see why Chris Collin is FREE TO BE WILD!
A Decade After SCI, Chris Collin is More Active Than Ever
You may remember reading about Cure Advocate Chris Collin here on the CURE NATION, or maybe you recognize his contagious smile from the Cure Medical booth at Abilities Expo this year. When he’s not traveling the country as an advocate for people who roll, he lives an adventurous life in rural Maine.Luckily, Maine is the perfect place to live for Chris’s love of all things wild. After a motorcycle accident resulted in a thoracic spinal cord injury just over ten years ago, he has developed a deep love for adaptive sports and the outdoors, especially snow skiing. Interestingly, though, he wasn’t a big fan of sports or outdoor adventures prior to his injury.
Chris Collin believes he got a second chance at life, which he doesn’t plan on taking for granted. He stays active, tries new things and lives life to the fullest. This time around, he’s FREE TO BE WILD.
About four years ago, Chris became an instructor for Maine Adaptive Sports, primarily teaching people with paralysis to monoski. A great thing about Maine Adaptive is that it’s totally free, without the ticket, equipment or instructor fees that most programs require. They’re currently expanding their reach to connect with potential athletes across New England.
Chris says when he’s recruiting people who roll to learn to monoski, he says, “if you like independence, you have to try monoskiing. You can do the same exact things as a skier standing up – you can go where they can go and do what they can do. You feel more independent and free. When you get out there, there’s no difference – it’s a level playing field.”
VIDEO: WATCH CHRIS COLLIN MONO-SKIing AT STOWE MOUNTAIN
A Close-Call on the Mountain Doesn’t Stop Chris From Doing What He Loves
Last year, Chris Collin was happily kicking off the ski season on a Monday with some friends. He was getting familiar with the slopes and making sure his gear was all good, when he decided to take the chair lift up the mountain. But, something went wrong.
Chris shares, “When I lifted myself up to get on the chair lift, my board got stuck, so I couldn’t flip around to sit. At first, I thought the snow was blocking it, as it has done so many times before. I figured it would clear when I went got off the landing area. But, that’s wasn’t the case. As the lift continued up, I was stuck hanging on, without being able to sit down.”
“At that point, I began to panic a little,” Chris continues. “I tried to signal the lift operator and tried to reach for something better to hang on to, with no luck. I looked down and, realized I had a 15-foot drop, I decided to try and hang on until the top and drop into the safety net up there.”
“However, about half way up the hill, I lost my grip and fell about 25 feet.”
Chris landed on his head somehow, and his neck was severely bent to the side. He was rushed to the hospital with yet another spinal cord injury, this time in his neck.
After an x-ray was done, the doctors found that he had broken the spinous processes, or outward bony projections, on his C-6 and C-7 vertebrae. The good news was that the vertebrae didn’t move.
The doctors gave Chris the option of having surgery or wearing a neck brace that they hoped would stabilize the neck long enough to heal. Chris opted for the neck brace.
For almost three months, Chris wore the neck brace and slowly regained feeling back in his left hand. As soon as he was cleared by his doctors, he went straight back to the slopes. He had nearly missed the entire ski season, but he was able to get one day in before it was over.
“Waiting a whole year to get back out there would have driven me absolutely crazy,” Chris shares. “I had to get it done so I didn’t worry about it all year.”
Chris Takes to the Water on the Impossible Dream
Last summer, Chris met up with an old friend from rehab who now works as an ambassador for an adapted catamaran, and spent some time with him on the ocean. The boat, called the “Impossible Dream,” is a universally-accessible, 60-foot sailing catamaran. It was created by Mike Browne, a paraplegic who had a dream of creating a vessel that could sail the oceans and the catamaran is fully operational by a person in a wheelchair.
Chris describes the boat as being pretty extraordinary, saying, “The boat is 100% accessible with four elevators on board. Everything is run by hydraulics and push button. You could have an entire crew of people with disabilities operating the vessel, and not one able-bodied person.”
According to their website, the vision of the Impossible Dream is to sail along the east coast of the U.S. in search of people and programs that are using the water to improve quality of life.
It takes most of the summer for the Impossible Dream and its crew to travel from Florida, at its Shake-a-Leg Miami sea base, to Maine and back. The boat stops at ports along the coast to give people with disabilities a chance to get out on the water.
WHY CHRIS CHOOSES A CURE CATHETER
Right after my injury, I consistently got urinary tract infections (UTIs). I tried many different brands of catheters. I always washed my hands carefully before using my catheters and tried to keep everything associated with my catheters as sterile as possible.
However, I continued to get UTIs. My catheter provider, located in Portland, Maine, had been supplying my catheters and suggested I try one of the Cure Medical catheters that they carry. The Cure products worked really well.
To find the Cure Medical catheter that worked best for me, I tried a Cure Catheter Closed System, a catheter that came pre-attached to a bag. I never really touched the catheter thanks to the Closed System. And after I began using the Cure Catheter Closed System, I seldom had UTIs.
To request free samples of the Cure Medical® Closed System or any Cure Medical® catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.
I started off liking the Cure Medical catheter, because it reduced the number of UTIs I had. But then, after I learned more about them, I really appreciated that the Cure catheters didn’t contain any DEHP or BPA in their catheters. (Learn more about the concerns with DEHP here.)
In several studies, DEHP and BPA had been linked to cancer. I didn’t want to put anything with DEHP or BPA in my body.
I’ve been asked to serve as one of the Cure Medical advocates and I’m honored to do so. As a Cure Medical advocate, I’ll be visiting with customers and friends in the Cure Medical booth at different events throughout the year like the Abilities Expo.I’d love to talk with any person who wants to try out a Cure Medical catheter, and I’ll be happy to share my experiences. Feel free to reach out to me!
JOIN US FOR MORE ADVENTURES IN THE FREE TO BE SERIES
Chris Collin is one of millions of people who roll through life everyday after paralysis, free to be whoever and whatever their heart desires. With plenty of resources and programs available through our community partners, like the Wheels UP! accessible travel initiative with SPORTS ‘N SPOKES magazine, all of our friends in the CURE NATION are individually gifted and unique in their chosen way. We are thrilled to contribute to their success!
Learn more about CURE NATION resources and events here.
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