This is the third year in a row I have hosted/made possible FA Adventure Days. I try to make them a way for people with FA and their friends/family to connect, have fun and take on new challenges. As the day approaches, each year, I get nervous and wonder what I was thinking taking it on. Then, the day (or for this year, days) happen and I know exactly why I did it. This year, like past years, new folks were introduced to the FA community and we took on new challenges. I meet new FAmilies, reconnect with old friends and have fun. FA Adventure Days are always great for me, but I wanted to use this blog as an opportunity to see what it meant for some of the other participants…
Day One (Each of the two days had a different group of participants.)
By John Ryan
I had the pleasure of attending FA Adventure day on Wednesday June 25th. I really did not know what to expect of the day. I was hoping to meet some new friends and families with FA and have some fun. The day was much more than I expected. Okay, the 7 hour ride each way was not a highlight but looking back it was so worth it!
It was a fun day filled with things I would not normally be able to do with people I don’t get to see very often. Where else could a person with a disability be hoisted up into the sky and swing on a rope amongst the tree tops or be dropped like a sling shot and fly through the air. The feeling was amazing. Swinging amongst the trees brought on a very calm and relaxed feeling.
The staff and volunteers at Project Adventure were awesome. Without them a day like this would not be possible. They were kind, patient and had a way of making everyone feel safe and confident doing things they had never imagined doing. Thanks so much to all of you for the opportunity to have this wonderful adventure!
By Connor Sweeny
FA Adventure day is really amazing, when I first heard about it I thought all you do was is come and do the rides and go home. They really try hard so you can make new friends and everybody gets involved.
Nate (Folan) from Project Adventure asked if I wanted to participate in the Swing Shot and I wasn’t sure what it was but of course I did. I was saddled with a tight harness while I waited for my turn. Two swingers ahead of me were lifted via pulley high into a tree until they yanked the release cord sending them swooping down, back and forth like a pendulum. Some brief screams were let out, but nothing indicated this would be a bad idea.
My turn. I drove my scooter next to the ladder and was given the option to climb it myself and attach my harness to the pulley at the top or attach on the ground and be hoisted all the way. I climbed the ladder, a daring feat in its own right, and was firmly fastened. I could have let go completely and been safe, but I clutched the rope for dear life.
The ladder was removed and I dangled from the harness eight feet in the air, clutching, while the Pull Crew asked me how high I wanted to go. "All the way" I said. The Pull Crew obliged. Up I went.
As I neared the top and my body was about parallel with the ground, I heard from down below, "That's far enough. Your mother would not approve of this."
I chuckled and agreed. At the highest point possible, I paused for a moment and looked out. I was up there with the birds in the middle of the forest. Gorgeous view. I wished I had my camera. Without thinking about what would happen next I reached for the release cord with my right hand, still very much clutching with my left, and pulled.
Woosh. I knew what was coming, but I couldn't say I was prepared for it. As I soared through the woods, certain I would strike a tree on my backswing, it looked as though I had a massive smile on my face. It was actually me trying to scream, but the exhilaration would not let anything come out. Once I realized I was safe from a tree collision, it became an actual smile. I swung for what felt like 15 minutes but was probably only about one and eventually slowed and climbed the ladder back down to earth. The Swing Shot is indeed appropriately named.
Adventure Day was full of meaningful interaction. The thrill of the Swing Shot was nothing compared to the camaraderie experienced by our group of 20 or so people. The folks at Project Adventure know how to create a comfortable social environment issuing enjoyable challenges throughout. A fulfilling and memorable day.
Adventure day is always so much fun for me! Adventure day is always about working together; it teaches us the importance of depending on each other. I've been going for several years and continue to look forward to it each year. In the morning we do so many great team building themes where you get a chance to learn something new and different about people who already share so much in common with you, FA. We always get the opportunity to do something that we can't normally do and something that others probably think we can't do with all of the ropes course activities! I would recommend this day to everyone; it is a single day that you can forget about Friedreich's Ataxia :)
FA Adventure Days could not happen without: The Unlimited Possibilities Foundation–for funding and volunteering each year. Project Adventure–for donating their site, equipment and people each year. Affairs Catering–for providing meals at a discount each year.
Our volunteers: Bill Cuff; Tim Churchard; Woody Barr, Jane Panicucci; Melissa Churchard Hannon; Ingrid Barr; Nate Folan; & Lisa Howard!
This year’s FA Adventure Days were presented by The FA Project.