It was a rainy day when paraplegic Riley Martin went over the edge.
Bungee jumping may be one of the scariest of extreme sports. It takes nerves of steel to launch oneself off a bridge, cliff side, or other high platform with nothing but a rubber band to keep the jumper from a fairly messy death. What one really never expects to see, though, is a man in a wheelchair engage in the activity—wheelchair and all.
College student Riley Martin has done just that to raise disability awareness.
Riley, 21, is a business student at Okanagan College in British Columbia. Four years ago, he lost the use of his legs in a motorcycle accident, but has now proved to himself and others that losing the use of one’s legs doesn’t have to mean being limited. He recently decided to bungee jump, wheelchair and all, after seeing a video of Rick Hansen, the Canadian paraplegic who, in the 1980s, traveled via wheelchair through 34 countries to raise awareness about the potential of people with disabilities. The video inspired Riley, and he wanted to do something of his own to support the cause.
Riley admitted that the daredevil stunt was one of the scariest things he’d ever done, even expressing it on his Reddit account, saying, “I did something that truly scared me this past weekend.” But the fear of actually undertaking the jump came later—his initial fear was that the bungee-jump company would neither be able nor willing to accommodate his disability. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
“I called the guys in Whistler to make an appointment and mentioned at the end that I was in a wheelchair and they said, ‘Oh, great, we’ll get the wheelchair harness for you’ and that’s all it was,” he said.
So on September 28, 2013, Riley found himself on the precipice of a bridge 170 feet above a rushing river in Whistler, BC. The process required only a few extra harness straps than normal to properly secure the wheelchair for the stunt. Of the feeling, he said, “I was really nervous beforehand. I saw it on the video before that it was pretty smooth, but getting ready to do it myself, I was really worried.”
He goes on to describe the experience, “It was a really weird feeling to be dropped and having nothing hold on to me for that little bit until the cord catches on. I have to admit that I closed my eyes for that little bit.”
Originally bungee jumping was just something Riley wanted to do, “to cross off the list,” but now he says he may be willing to do it again. “It was a good feeling that I was still able to do it, just the same as able-bodied people,” he said.
Since the entire experience only takes a few seconds, the video is short, but for Riley, it was oh, so sweet! What are some of the wildest things you’ve done in your wheelchair?