KBF Ambassador: Anna Soens
When I broke my back in a rock climbing fall in December 2015, the paraplegia was secondary in my mind. The only thing racing through my head as I desperately pleaded with my legs to twitch or flicker, was that I needed them to carry me back to the peaks of the Sierra, up the fissures of Moab’s sandstone walls, across the talus fields and through the gnarled arms of Nevada’s endless seas of sage. The stillness of my feet was merely the quiet, tangible evidence of the lost freedom and ransacked identity that I was mourning. My ability to find escape and peace in my favorite places was lost in an instant. I was devastated and terrified.
I hated the straight lines of the corners of the hospital room and the constant battery of lights and beeps at all hours of the day and night. I longed to wake up in my tent again and brush this nightmare away with the sleep from my eyes. From my laptop, I escaped my hospital room by devouring photos, trip reports, and climbing route beta – with the new hunger of a caged dog.
Slowly, I stumbled upon the world of adaptive sports. At that time, I didn’t know anyone with a physical disability. Disability was a distant, vague term that I only peripherally associated with the Paralympics every few years; it was a world completely abstract to my own life. I was in awe of these athletes who were climbing, skiing, and mountain biking in a style I’d never seen before; they were getting after it and I was pumped. I found hope for my future.
Four years later, through a growing network of friends and adaptive sports programs dotted throughout the west and a quiver of equipment made possible by foundations like KBF, those desperate hopes have developed into a reality that’s active and unapologetically full. I’ve returned to climbing, adopted new obsessions in skiing and mountain biking, and rediscovered old sailboat passions. I’ve found my way back to those favorite wild and secluded places that I thought I had lost, and have discovered new ones. As cliché as it is, I literally climbed a mountain to reach a dream that crashed with me when I fell. And because of all of it, my sights and endeavors now are set higher than I was ever capable of dreaming of before.
KBF supported me in those earliest, scariest times of my SCI recovery with one of my first grants, and have rooted for me in my escapades ever since. I am beyond stoked to adventure with them over the next year!