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Meet Joe Stone

joestone-in-hospital-300x225On August 13, 2010, Joe Stone nearly died after crashing into a mountain at almost 50 MPH near Missoula, MT, while speed flying, a form paragliding. The accident left him with a permanent spinal cord injury at the C7 level, rendering him an incomplete quadriplegic, meaning he is paralyzed from the chest down and has impairment in both his hands.

And this is his story…

I was an athlete and avid outdoors man before this injury and at first I felt lost as if I would never be able to do many of those things again.

However, through research and determination, I learned that there are many ways to get back into the outdoors even with a physical limitation. I decided to set a large personal goal as a way to find out for myself, what was truly possible with my level of injury.

On August 12, 2011, one day before the one year anniversary of my accident, I successfully hand cycled the challenging Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier National Park. When I achieved my goal of finishing that ride, I discovered that my life truly felt limitless again.

I set my sights on completing IRONMAN Florida on Nov 2, and becoming the first known wheelchair-using quadriplegic to complete this grueling race.

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The Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. Top able-bodied competitors finish the race in about 9-10 hrs; I was hoping to complete it in between 14-15 hrs. The race has a hard time limit and has to be completed in a max of 17 hrs. On the day of the race I battled large swells in the ocean and cool temperatures increasing the risk of hypothermia as I swam for almost two and a half hours completing the 2.4 mile swim but missing the time cutoff by just minutes.

While this was a very large personal goal, the bigger vision and purpose for doing this is to share the experience of this journey as a way to inspire others to push the boundaries of perceived limitations to live rich and fulfilling lives, regardless of their physical and mental abilities.

To help further this mission, I speak to groups and organizations, volunteer as a peer mentor, and engage in outdoor activities with people of all abilities.