Our blog this week comes from LIMLegend Robert Spotswood, who participated in his Infinite Socket TF, and had the luxury of being able to adjust his socket to accommodate each challenge. Read his views on the challenges he faced on the course, and the comradery his team showed throughout this unique event.
It’s an extraordinary feeling when you accomplish something that seemed previously unachievable. And, it is even more satisfying to have done so based on the collaborative efforts of a team of people. Teamwork is defined as ‘the combined action of a group of people, especially when effective and efficient.’ I experienced the truest manifestation of the power of teamwork during the Adventure team Challenge in Colorado hosted by World T.E.A.M. Sports. During this race teams of 5 individuals (one wheelchair participant, an amputee, and three able-bodied) participate in a three day adventure race that involves mountain biking, hiking, rafting, and climbing. Each team has to accomplish orienteering tasks along the way as a team and do so in the shortest amount of time possible. The only way to accomplish all of these challenges in the most efficient and expedient way is to value each other’s differences and physical abilities to bring out the absolute best in each other. You set-up towing systems for your para-athlete and amputee to better enable them to climb mountains on their bikes, you collaborate on decisions about what direction to take for the next checkpoint, you paddle in perfect unison to maximize speed on the water, you rely on the strength of another to carry a team member over the finish line, ultimately leveraging each other’s strengths to achieve what would otherwise be impossible alone.
I was nervous about this event after the prologue which determined the seeding for the competition because I nearly passed out from exhaustion. This was the first day I had met my teammates and we were still getting to know each other and how to best work together. That didn’t take long! After our 16 mile paddle down the Colorado river we embarked on a 12 mile mtn. biking race where it clicked that only by working together, knowing each other’s strengths/weaknesses, designating roles and encouraging each other that we could cross the finish line together. As an amputee, I couldn’t do this alone, our para-athlete couldn’t do this alone, only by working together were we able to do what previously felt impossible.
I traveled to CO with two teams from LIM that were also competing, which I was thrilled about because I was coming on board with the company a few weeks after the race. To me this was the ultimate team building event, it was an opportunity to watch how the LIM teams worked together and how I could best work with them going forward. I had a feeling they would do well (and they did!) but I underestimated how dedicated, committed and respectful they were of each other throughout the challenges. Each member knew how to bring out the best in another. It was inspiring to witness and it strengthened my connection to them all.
I had done this race about 5 years ago when I was wearing a traditional suction socket made by Hanger. Almost immediately, I knew it was going to be a struggle to perform well because my leg literally kept falling off during the bike ride and the hiking portion due to an overall poor fit. I ended up taking my leg off and using crutches for most of the event which was very physically challenging and resulted in a poor performance by our team. They could only carry me on their shoulders for so long. This year I was wearing the Infinite Socket LIM had provided me and the differences were night and day.
My leg stayed on during the entirety of the mountain biking and hiking portions and I was able to adjust the fit of my socket throughout the event, on the go, which enabled me to perform significantly better than my previous experience.
It’s truly reinvigorating when you realize you are capable of doing great things not only through the help of others but through improved technology. I’m looking forward to helping those with disabilities come to the realization that they too can achieve what previously seemed impossible.