A couple weekends ago, Tanelle Bolt did something she hasn’t done in a long time.
While attending the Saunders Family Foundation’s annual golf tournament in the Cowichan Valley, Bolt, who is a paraplegic, was able to stand and look someone in the eye as she was having a conversation with them.
“I was standing up in front of a group of people, which is an experience I haven’t had since my injury happened,” said Bolt, a former West Shore resident, who currently lives in the East Kootenays.
The experience was made possible thanks to the help of some new equipment. The paramobile or paragolfer is an electric mobility device that raises people into a standing position and was specifically designed to allow a more conventional golf swing, but can also be used in a variety of ways outdoors.
Bolt is the founder of the RAD Recreation Adaptive Society, a Victoria-based non-profit society aiming to make outdoor recreation possible for people living with limited mobility – one of those ways includes the paramobile.
In recent months, Bolt has been pushing for golf courses throughout the province, including those on the West Shore, to carry a paramobile for rent and to provide accessibility to all. She is currently in talks with golf courses in Invermere to bring units to that region.
In her perfect world she would like to see Highlands Pacific, Olympic View, Cedar Hill and Cordova Bay golf courses offer two units that golfers with limited mobility could rent and share between venues.
“I want to spread the word about adaptive outdoor recreation. The paramobile is just one piece of equipment in the story of the RAD Society,” Bolt said.
“I’m working on re-fabricating an one-armed paddle device. I’ve got sit skis, water skis and would love to have camper trailers just so people with mobility issues can experience the beautiful outdoors of British Columbia.”
It was four years ago when Bolt’s life changed forever. In August 2014 while camping in Port Renfrew, she jumped feet first from a 60-foot bridge into a river and upon impact with the water fractured her T6 vertebra. The accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.
Despite the injury, Bolt always remained hopeful that she would one day be able to continue her passion for outdoor activities.
After attending the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver, she started looking for equipment that would help her ski and surf again. But it’s been difficult as there is a distinct lack of equipment and resources available to independent individuals living with mobility issues, she said.
That’s why as soon as Bolt found out about the paramobile from a friend two years ago, she had to have one. But getting a paramobile hasn’t been easy. For the last 13 months, she has been trying to get her hands on the German-made unit that she describes as “very transportable.” In November, she eventually hopped into her car and drove to California to pick up her paramobile.
And she hasn’t looked back since. The paramobile, which is strong enough to hold a man in the standing position and can also be transported by a variety of vehicles, also allows Bolt to stand while at the gym and during another activities.
“It’s a trike set up, so it’s not a four-wheel device, which gives you the ability to pivot in a circle. So basically you can spin around in a circle sitting still,” Bolt said.
“This is something that lends to independent living as somebody with mobility issues quite nicely.”
For more information visit radsociety.ca.