About Project #inspirACEtion:
January 18th, 2015 I was in a motorcycle accident, leaving me paralyzed from the chest down. Project #inspirACEtion started as a viral video challenge for Polaris. They gave 11 media outlets an Ace and asked what can the Ace do. John Pellen from UTV Scene believed it could change lives. After hearing about my accident and knowing I have raced in the GNCC Series since 2005 Pellen knew I would be the perfect candidate to get back on the track and do just what he thought the Ace could do, change lives. He contacted Racer Tech out of Holland, Michigan a fabrication company that he knew could get the job done. Racer Tech built a custom Polaris ACE for me, equipped with a great set of hand controls. (https://youtu.be/S37lgqW82XY) The goal is to inspire everyone that just because they are paralyzed does not mean their life is over, and to also educate people that being paralyzed is not just being in a wheelchair. We were not expecting it to blow up as big as it has, reaching Europe and even gaining national media attention on the Today Show. We are touching lives through not only my progress in physical therapy but also the fact I still compete in races.
(http://www.today.com/health/woman-finds-fairy-tale-love-returns-racing-after-paralysis-procedure-t24186 the Today Show)
( http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2015/08/21/invivo/4IPQGotWl43ipD3E2zufdO/story.html the cover of the Boston Globe)
(http://www.quadjournal.de/e-Mag/Quadjournal_4_2015/flipviewerxpress.html the cover of Germany’s Quad Journal)
Plans for the 2016 Season:
For 2016 we will continue project #inspirACEtion in a Polaris/Racer Tech backed Polaris Ace. We know what we need to do as a team to win a championship. I plan to race the entire GNCC series, the Heartland Challenge and if time permits I hope to hit some West Coast Races as well. Because I was fresh out of the hospital I was weak and us as an entire team didn’t have a clue what we needed to do to prepare ourselves to race the Ace. We as a team and myself as an individual now have the knowledge and tools to go out and win a championship. I am also spreading project #inspirACEtion and awareness of spinal cord injuries by entering the Miss. Wheelchair USA pageant. We hope to have your continued support for 2016 and cannot thank you enough for jumping on board so late in the 2015 season.
2015 GNCC Series:
For the first two UTV rounds I was still in the hospital. Round 3 was my first time on the track about a month after my hospital release. We as a team didn’t know what to expect. I realized quickly that I had a lot of training ahead of me. Fatiguing quickly I held on passing someone in the final turn to finish fifth. Two weeks later we hit round 4, the guys changed my battery from the stock to a 24 volt, which gave me the holeshot. After about 2 laps in we had a front shock blow apart on the motorcross track putting me in the pits. After putting the strut back on getting me back on the track to finish seventh. Knowing what I needed to work on I spent the summer doing regular physical therapy with intense strength training. I am prepared for rounds, 5 and 6 which are in mid – late October.
The 2015 Heartland Challenge:
(August 21, 2015)
The Heartland Challenge is an endurance race in Carlise. The unique terrain and time frame of this race make it a crowd favorite that majority of East Coast off-road teams look forward to every year. It is a true test of the endurance of the machine and the rider. At the GNCC’s our main series we attend the ACE class only races thirty to forty minutes, the Heartland Challenge doubled that time letting us race for a solid hour and a half.
We got off to a great start, going into the woods in second. As I was powering through on the tail of first place my steering wheel moved up extending my arms fully making it difficult for me to maneuver the machine through the tight woods and sharp turns. About an hour into the race my rams fatigued out. With a combination of the steering wheel being almost out of my reach and the fatigue from my arms working hard to control my Ace, I blew a turn and rolled my car on its side. The track crew came around about five minutes later and got me back to the rubber side down. It was at this point I realized I had to pull into the pits and get this fixed. The entire field passed me so I had nothing to lose at this point.
When I stopped into the pits my Racer Tech Mechanic Ben, along with the Jacks Excavating team were ready to get my car back to race ready. They quickly drilled and remounted my stilt steering rod. I had thirty minutes left to make up serious time. Gaining thirty seconds each lap, I finished a solid third, having the time of my life. This was also a learning lesson for not only myself but our team. We know what we have to prepare for in the future so I can have solid finishes.