Friday, July 11, 2008

My journey to Beijing and the Paralympics (by Angela)

I haven't written in a while and my friends have begun to worry about me. I could write an entire chapter on my experiance here so far but I am just going to summarize. I set out for Philladelphia quite a while ago and it has not been going so well. Some parts have gotten better and some things are just plain stressfull. For those who do not know, there is more to my life than being a disabled veteran, than ocean rowing, running an adaptive rowing program or even surfing. I have competed on our national adaptive rowing team since 2002 and my US rowing partner since 2002 is Scott Brown. Scott lives and works in Philadelphia. Since we don't recieve a great deal of money, sponsorship or support as disabled athletes I decided to relocate to Philadelphia for training with Scott. This enables Scott to remain employed while we train. We get on the water before he goes to work and then again after his work. It just seemed to make more sense than both of us leaving our home, our family and our work to train. Scott and his wife Sandy are appropriately appreciative of the sacrafices I have made for our national team and for our sport.I searched on Craigs list, called the Disabled Veterans Organizations, the Veterans Hospaital and even affiliate churches to my church in Long Beach to find an accessible room or apartment to rent here in Philly and had no success. After living in my van for almost 2 weeks I finally found a place to live. After spending 67 days in the small boat at sea with no plumbing, living in the van is a piece of cake. The van, by comparrison is a mansion with its many amenities , I could do it easily, but why?Not much help had been offered from anyone out here. At US Rowing Nationals in New Jersy US Rowing offered to let me shower at the boathouse. That was the only kind offer of assistance I had recieved from the rowing powers that be since embarking on my Journey to the Paralympics. My coach? who knows what is going on there? Sometimes, lately, I just want to get in my van and drive home. I have never quit or given less than 100% at anything in my life so that really is not an option! I made a commitment to my rowing partner and I am going to see it through no matter what! That pretty much summs it up for me.I know... usually I am Ms positive but sometimes it really does suck to be me! I don't know why it has to be this difficult? For the first time since my back surgery I can honestly say that I am feeling a bit depressed. I was thousands of miles from land in either direction on a small boat at sea with one man who did not speak my language and did not experiance, not even once, the kind of lonliness and isolation that this place has to offer. I miss my Partner Debbie, I miss my Family, I miss my Church, I miss my Friends, I miss my Home, I miss my ocean rowing boat (other home for most of the last year) I miss my friends and associates at California Paralysed Veterans Association. I have so many things I need to be doing like working on the book and documentary of the ocean crossing, remodeling my house, working on the rowoflife boat, getting back to the California Adaptive Rowing Program and even watching the grass grow. This is going to be a long three months. I am hoping to make it worthwhile by getting us onto the medal stand in Bejing. On another positive note:Thanks go out to Francis Fulton of Liberty Resources Center in Philadelphia who took me in for a couple of days and then helped me find an accessible place to live while I am here to train and to Michelle McCandless for accepting me as a roomate on short notice. These two people have extended hospitality and kindness to a complete stranger without any hesitation. They are my new heroes!Angela

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