Oregon Adaptive Sports teams compete in PPP

Disabilities won't keep them from crossing finish line

Adaptive team members ready for PPP

BEND, Ore. - Hundreds of teams are competing in the 2013 U.S. Bank Pole Pedal Paddle, and three of them were organized through Oregon Adaptive Sports, where athletes say they will not let their disabilities hold them back from crossing the finish line.

"I had a thought in my mind where I was only half a person, having only half of a body that works," said Carl Backstrom. "But it brought me back to the norm."

Staying active is a huge part of Backstrom's life. After a motorcycle accident left him with a broken back 25 years ago, he had to find a new way to play the sports he loves.

"I purchased myself a hand cycle and I never looked back," said Backstrom. "And adaptive sports have been kind of a lifesaver for me, and a lot of people I know."

One the other people it's had a big impact on is a competing teammate of Backstrom's. James Fredericks, who will be doing the kayak leg for Team Onward. They will be competing against Backstrom's team, True Grit.

"My life before my accident was, and still is, very athletic," said Fredericks. "For one thing, it just keeps me sane. And it gives me a sense of fulfillment, that I am constantly accomplishing things. It makes me feel good about myself."

Before breaking his neck in a surfing accident 13 years ago, Fredericks used to compete solo in the PPP. He even placed fourth one year.

After the accident, Fredericks joined the Oregon Adaptive Sports team.

"I'm strong enough to go upstream in the Pole Pedal Paddle," said Fredericks. "So I do have some strength, and I'm going to make the most of it."

While there is a fun rivalry between the two athletes, they say it's making it through the race that will be the prize.

"It's just that picture at the end of the line, showing that we all made it," said Backstrom. "We're three teams. We are all competitive, but at the same time, we're cheering each other on."

Some of the teammates have traveled from all over the state to take part in the competition. The athletes say they want more people to take part in the competition and keep it growing in the years to come.

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