38th annual National Wheelchair Sports Camp

38th annual National Wheelchair Sports Camp

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(ABC 6 News) – This week, Ironwood Springs Christrian Ranch brought back its National Wheelchair Sports Camp for the 38th year.

The ranch brings in wheelchair-bound folks from all over for the week long camp.

This ongoing tradition began with one man, Bob Bardwell.

“Sometimes God can take your scars I call them, and turn them into stars, and he’s done that here at the ranch,” Bardwell said.

After suffering an accident that bound him to a wheelchair, he wanted to push himself to the limits, hoping to inspire others.

“Of all these years, of all these kids that have come, we’ve probably witnessed maybe 15 to 20 of them become paralympians.”

He eventually was able to turn his ranch into a safe space for others like him, to show them despite any physical limitations, there’s still so much they can do.

“For example, a zipline, you wouldn’t think that you could be able to adapt to zipline, but you can and this camp really shows how you can adapt to almost anything,” said Isabelle Kleist, a camper from River Falls, Wisconsin.

This years message is ‘Soar on eagles wings.’

“You can’t soar on your own, you need support from family and friends and you need encouragement, so we talked about how you can soar in life,” Bardwell said.

The camp is full of activities these campers never thought was possible.

“I had no clue people could water ski, especially when they’re wheelchair bound,” Kleist said.

Whether they were tuning up their chair, or playing pickleball, this week is about encouraging and lifting each other up.

That’s something that will carry on throughout the rest of the week.

“This is like the only week of the year it feels like I’m not in a chair because I’m just like everybody else, so it’s pretty cool,” said Jessica Elsberry, a camper from Lincoln, Nebraska.

There’s still a lot more fun fun activities for these campers to experience like horseback riding, archery, and even karaoke softball.

Bardwell looks forward to continue these and inspire any future campers for many years to come.