Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Health and Fitness

Once-paralyzed supercross rider Jimmy Button to bicycle cross-country to raise money for spinal cord research


Supercross rider Jimmy Button vividly remembers the accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Remembers it as if it happened only yesterday, instead of 11 years ago.

"I can still remember it clear as day. It was one of those basic little falls -- I wasn't going very quickly at all -- I just fell down very slowly and hit at the wrong speed and at the wrong angle. It pinched my spinal cord and I had instantaneous paralysis," Button told Outposts.

Button, then 26, was starting his 11th season as a professional motocross rider. However, on Jan. 22, 2000, his life would drastically change in an instant. While practicing for the evening’s AMA Supercross Series race at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, Button went down in the whoop section and immediately went numb.

"The second I hit the ground I knew, I instinctively knew what was wrong, and when medic workers and various track workers got to me I basically told them that I was pretty sure I just paralyzed myself because I can't feel anything or move anything below my neck."

The injury sustained was a pinched spinal cord in the C-2 to C-6 region of his neck -- his second and third vertebrae -- leaving Button paralyzed from the neck down and considered an incomplete quadriplegic.

"A complete injury is when the spinal cord is severed; an incomplete injury is where mine is, where it's a bruise where there's always a glimmer of hope that something might come back to you, you may regain some function," said Button.

Still, doctors didn't hold out much hope, and told family that Button would likely never walk again.

"My records, which we have, say on the very first page 'give family zero hope for recovery.' I think there were maybe some people in the rehab center thought I had a chance but not the initial doctors," Button said.

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'Ride with Larry' filmmakers surpass fundraising goal; will document 300-mile ride across South Dakota by cyclist with Parkinson's disease

Larry and Betty Smith riding in Vermillion, S.D.

The filmmakers of the "Ride with Larry" documentary are thrilled to report that they successfully reached their funding goal on Kickstarter.com, raising a total of $62,695 by the Tuesday deadline.

"We made it to the Kickstarter Hall of Fame as the 15th most-successful project of all time out of 4,000 funded projects since the website began," co-producer/co-director Andrew Rubin told Outposts.

The team's excitement and appreciation of those who contributed is apparent in this "Ride with Larry" blog post:


We LITERALLY couldn’t do it without you.

Featured in a Jan. 25 Outposts item, Vermillion, S.D., resident Larry Smith, 61, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when he was 42, is the focus of the documentary that aims to put a human face on the day-to-day fight against Parkinson's. He's planning to bike 300 miles from Aberdeen, S.D., to his home in Vermillion, stopping along the way each night to speak with local support groups about the benefits of cycling, staying active and keeping positive with Parkinson's.

Smith continues to train for his June departure, albeit indoors because of the South Dakota snow keeping him from riding his recumbent bike around town. Both he and his wife, Betty, have been hitting the gym, where Smith is now clocking 17 miles in 40 minutes.


'Ride With Larry': Cyclist with Parkinson's disease to bike 300 miles across South Dakota

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Larry and Betty Smith riding in Vermillion, S.D. Credit: Andrew Rubin / Ride with Larry

'Ride With Larry': Cyclist with Parkinson's disease to bike 300 miles across South Dakota


Avid cyclist Larry Smith was 42 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Now 61, the retired police captain is an inspiring sight around his hometown of Vermillion, S.D., because of his attitude and refusal to just stop living.

Smith, who owns Mister Smith's Bakery and Cafe in Vermillion, has become a familiar sight as he heads to work on his red recumbent bike.

"I know people that got diagnosed with Parkinson's, and they just gave up. Sat in a wheelchair and refused to get up," Smith said. "I'll never give up. Some day this will probably take me, but I'm not going to walk away from life."

He is now taking his message to the street -- about 300 miles of it. In June, Smith is planning to ride from Aberdeen, S.D. to his home in Vermillion, stopping along the way each night to speak with local support groups about the benefits of cycling, staying active and keeping positive with Parkinson's.

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'The Bachelorette's' Ryan Sutter raises more than $100,000 completing his First Descents Challenge

(from left) Ryan Sutter with First Descents founder Brad Ludden and friend Ethan Zohn at the finish line of the New York City Marathon.

An update on Ryan Sutter, the Vail, Colo., Fire Department lieutenant likely better known to the public as the finalist on Season 1 of "The Bachelorette," who participated in the 10.10.10 First Descents Challenge.

Sutter was pushing to reach his goal of completing 10 athletic challenges and along the way inspire 10,000 people to contribute $10 each, hoping to collect a total of $100,000 for First Descents, a nonprofit organization that provides free outdoor-adventure therapy for young adults with cancer.

Sutter finished the last of 10 events, completing the Nov. 7 New York City Marathon in 3:20:39. He also reached and surpassed his fund raising goal, ending up with $100,424 donated, which will provide 100 young adults the opportunity to attend the weeklong First Descents camp.

"Going into this journey I expected a test of my physical endurance. What I did not anticipate was the profound affect the 10.10.10 Challenge would have on me as a father, husband and man," said Sutter. "Through the eyes of the young adults in the First Descents programs I was given a window into life’s tremendous potential and the importance of each day. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to give back to an organization that has given me so much."

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'The Bachelorette's' Ryan Sutter has one more event to go in his 10.10.10 First Descents Challenge

Ryan Ryan Sutter spends his workday helping people as a lieutenant with the Vail, Colo. Fire Department. Sutter, however, is likely better known to the public as the finalist on Season 1 of "The Bachelorette," in which he won the heart of Trista Rehn in 2003 (they married later that year and now have two children).

Now, the 36-year-old Avon, Colo., resident, is out to help people -- specifically, young adults -- battling cancer.

To do so, Sutter is participating in the 10.10.10 First Descents Challenge, pushing to reach his goal of completing 10 athletic challenges and along the way inspire 10,000 people to contribute $10 each, hoping to collect a total of $100,000 for First Descents, a nonprofit organization that provides free outdoor-adventure therapy for young adults with cancer.

By the end of 2010, Sutter will have trained for 700 hours, traveled 8,500 miles and climbed the equivalent of Mt. Everest four times.

"The point was to really challenge myself, to see what I could accomplish and to take some of the inspiration that I've gotten from watching some of the campers at First Descents," Sutter said.

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The Lazy Marathoner: So this is what V.I.P. looks like

Start Thank you, Mother Nature, for smiling down on my back-to-back half-marathons.

Despite all the cold and rainy weather we've had of late, the conditions were excellent for Sunday's inaugural Rock 'N' Roll half-marathon, which started in Griffith Park and ended up in downtown Los Angeles. I did this on a bit of a whim, feeling strong after last week's walk/run in the Long Beach half- marathon, and I'm glad I did. Those guys really know how to put on a race.

Perhaps that's no surprise, given the cross-country slate of marathons and half-marathons they put on under the Rock 'N' Roll banner. But this team has it down to a science. By the time I decided to do the race, I'd missed the online-registration window. I arrived at the L.A. Convention Center late Friday afternoon, dreading the possibility of long lines at the registration tables and at the Expo. All that worry was wasted: I registered, paid for my bib and had my race packet in hand in about four minutes. Seriously. It seemed like the race organizers had one volunteer for ever runner in attendance. Was it different on Saturday when the crowds were larger? What was your experience like?

While at the Expo, I met race spokesman Dan Cruz, who kindly invited me to visit the V.I.P. tent on race morning with others from the media who were largely there to cover the celebrity quotient of the race. Among the competitors: actors Jerry O'Connell, Jennifer Love Hewitt and James Marsden, as well as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his girlfriend, KTLA TV reporter Lu Parker. (The mayor began the race but peeled off shortly after the start for work obligations: He was there to support Parker, whose charity, the Lu Parker Project, helps at-risk youth and homeless animals and raised more than $7,000 on Sunday. Perhaps even more amazing? The Miss USA 1994 looked as picture perfect at the end of the race as she did at the beginning of the race. Maybe even better, thanks to the post-workout glow. See photographic proof below.)

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The Lazy Marathoner: Well, that was easy

Runhappy I registered for the Long Beach Half Marathon with zero expectations. My running and fitness hit the skids a while back, and although I've been trying to get back on track, I have been bedeviled by a nagging, compelling, overwhelming desire to lie on the couch and watch TV instead of working out. I also had a painful foot injury. I used it all as an excuse to take months and months off. Ugh.

But I've rallied back by trying to follow Dr. Phil Maffetone's fitness plan. You can read more details here, but, briefly put, Maffetone bucks conventional wisdom by opposing the "no-pain, no-gain" philosophy that has been so ingrained in me and others. Instead, he focuses on improving aerobic conditioning -- and fat burning -- by slowing down and keeping your heart rate in check. He has urged me repeatedly to enjoy working out and not to focus on the clock. And although I have been skeptical about it at times -- it feels so easy, I can't believe I'm actually getting a "good workout" -- I'm here to say that it has worked for me in a big, big way.

The proof came Sunday, when I took part in the Long Beach Half Marathon simply as a training run. The cool temperatures and overcast skies made for perfect running weather for the roughly 24,000 people who took part in the day's events. Jason Gutierrez, 26, of Bogota, Colombia, came in first among the men, with a time of 2 hours, 19 minutes and 41 seconds. Lindsay Nelson, 25, of Chico, Calif., won the women's division with a time of 2 hours, 45 minutes and 8 seconds, a time that qualifies her for the 2012 Olympic trials.

For me, it was, by far, the easiest, most enjoyable, relaxed race I've ever run. (I've competed in a total of about 10 half marathons and marathons.) I felt like the gun went off, and next thing I knew, I was at Mile 11. I felt so great that when the race split off for the marathoners, I ever-so-briefly considered trying to do the whole thing.

And then I came to my senses and stuck to the half-marathon course.

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Duo completes wilderness 'Hike for Survival'


Wilderness survival expert Thomas Coyne and international stuntwoman Ky Furneaux achieved their goal, completing their 100-plus mile "Hike for Survival." The duo traveled from their official starting point at the Kaweah River Reservoir in Central California's Sierra Nevada to the Mojave Desert in just 10 days.

"It was the toughest challenge I've ever faced," said Coyne, founder of the Survival Training School of California. "I thought I reached my limits, and managed to push past them time and time again on this trip. The amazing environment I was in combined with the amazing partner I had, really helped me press on when the going got tough and I feel more confident in the wilderness than ever."

The twosome set out with little more than pocket knives and packs filled with cameras and other technical gear, living off the land and relying on nature for finding food, water and shelter.

"It was harder than I ever dreamed it would be," said Furneaux. "By Day 3 I didn’t know if I could make it. There was less food in season than we thought, the hiking was extreme and we had very little sleep with some nights below freezing. It was also a more incredible adventure than I ever imagined it would be."

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Duo ready to set out on 125-mile 'Hike for Survival'

Thomas Coyne and Ky Furneaux prepare to start a fire.

Wilderness survival expert Thomas Coyne and international stuntwoman Ky Furneaux won't be sitting down to watch the season premiere of "Survivor: Nicaragua" Wednesday on CBS.

Instead, they are scheduled to be setting out on a survival adventure of their own, tackling approximately 125 miles of wilderness from the Sierra Nevada in central California to the Mojave Desert carrying little more than pocket knives and packs filled with cameras and other technical gear.

"From the moment we wake up till the moment we go to sleep, we will be focused on obtaining fire, water, food, medicine and shelter," said Coyne, founder of the Survival Training School of California. "We will do this while hiking from one point to another."

Coyne and Furneaux are planning to each carry small point-of-view cameras as well as high-definition hand-held video cameras to capture every step of their "Hike for Survival" expedition.

"In my line of work, I face extreme challenges every day," Furneaux said. "But this is different. It is about endurance and the power of both the mind and body. It will be one of the hardest things I've ever done." Furneaux, an international stuntwoman based in Hollywood, will next appear in the feature films "Thor" and "Tron: Legacy" and is working on "Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides."

The actual list of what they are to be carrying is a bit more extensive than a pocket knife, but not by much, and doesn't include anything to eat or drink.

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USLA National Lifeguard Championships taking place Thursday through Saturday at Huntington Beach

Competitors in the men's rescue board race reach the shore and begin their run to the finish line at the 2006 National Lifeguard Championships at Huntington State Beach.

More than 1,000 adult and youth lifeguards from across the nation are expected to compete for individual and team honors at the United States Lifesaving Assn. National Lifeguard Championships, taking place Thursday through Saturday at Huntington State Beach.

Professional lifeguards ranging in age from 18 to 75 and junior lifeguards age 9 to 17 will compete in water and beach-course events -- from surf swims to beach runs and paddleboards to surf boats -- that challenge their lifesaving skills.

"The National Lifeguard Championships is a unique athletic event showcasing aquatic safety professionals and the techniques they use every day," said B. Chris Brewster, president of the U.S. Lifesaving Assn. "These skills save lives. Beach lifeguard agencies reported more than 80,000 rescues from the surf last year, 55,000 of them in Southern California alone."

The competition, hosted by the Huntington State Beach Lifeguard Assn., begins at 8 a.m. daily and runs until the end of the day, and spectator admission is free. Some of the events scheduled include the Landline Rescue Relay, Ironman and Ironwoman events and Beach Flags, called "the fastest event on sand."

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Teva Mountain Games begin Thursday in Vail, Colo.

Kayak 1 The Teva Mountain Games will kick off its eclectic mix of adventure sports, art and entertainment Thursday in Vail, Colo. The ninth annual event taking place through Sunday expects about 2,000 athletes to compete in 24 disciplines in eight sports, all vying for portions of a prize purse totaling more than $100,000.

Hosted by the Vail Valley Foundation, sporting events will include IFSC World Cup Bouldering competition -- the only World Cup bouldering event taking place in the U.S. -- as well as stand-up paddle boarding events, a discipline new to the games this year.

The games will also host competitions featuring some of the world's top athletes in each sport, competing alongside amateurs of all levels in trail running, kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, road cycling, amateur climbing, fly-fishing and a half-marathon.

In addition to all the adventure sports, there will be a photography competition, an interactive exhibition and demonstration area, DockDogs canine competitions, the Serac Adventure Film School, concerts and mountain lifestyle parties.

The games offer a family-friendly atmosphere with myriad free activities for all ages, including an adventure clinic on back-country and mountain preparedness, hosted by First Ascent guide Erik Leidecker; a mountaineering clinic hosted by First Ascent guide and mountaineering legend Peter Whittaker; a zip-lining course; the Eukanuba Doggie Dash obstacle course; outdoor film series screenings; free Parkour demonstrations with a hands-on beginner clinic; and the chance to try stand-up paddling with C4 Waterman team member and stand-up paddle surfing pro Charlie MacArthur.

A schedule of events is available on the Teva Mountain Games website.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A pro kayak freestyle competitor at the 2009 Teva Mountain Games. Credit: Shane Macomber Photography

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Katie Spotz, 22, sets record for youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean

Katie Spotz prepares for her solo row of the Atlantic Ocean.

After 70 days and 2,817 miles, Katie Spotz became the youngest person to successfully complete a solo row across the Atlantic Ocean, rowing into Georgetown, Guyana, on Sunday.

The 22-year-old set out on Jan. 3 from Dakar, Senegal, in West Africa and had planned on arriving in Cayenne, French Guiana. However, Spotz altered her course earlier this month to give herself a better chance of reaching land unassisted.

"The final days of my row were similar to the first ones, with generally calm seas," Spotz said. "I'm so glad I extended the journey 400 miles, as a part of me was holding on dearly to the simplicity of the sea."

Spotz, of Mentor, Ohio, did this not just to challenge herself but to raise funds and awareness for the Blue Planet Run Foundation, a charitable organization that funds safe drinking water projects for billions of people around the world in need.

She far surpassed her original fundraising target of $50,000, raising a total of $70,905 for the charity as of her arrival in port.

"I am so thankful to all of the people who followed my journey and sent me encouraging messages, but especially for their donations and support for safe drinking water, which were inspirations for the row," said Spotz.

No word yet on what the endurance athlete will try next, though something will likely be in the planning stages soon -- Spotz does not seem one to sit still for long.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Katie Spotz prepares for her solo row of the Atlantic Ocean. Credit: Laura Watilo Blake


Atlantic Ocean solo-rower Katie Spotz, 22, may reach land this weekend

Solo rower Katie Spotz, 22, alters course, adding extra miles and days to her transatlantic attempt

Atlantic Ocean solo rower Katie Spotz shares some thoughts from her mother

Katie Spotz, 22, past the halfway mark in her Atlantic Ocean solo row attempt

Katie Spotz, 22, is attempting to become the youngest person to complete solo row across the Atlantic Ocean

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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.