Around the lake on wheels and determination |

Around the lake on wheels and determination

Jill Darby

Mario Solis is taking off Tuesday on a voyage around the lake – His mode of transportation? An old, used wheelchair with no brakes, no gears and a dented wheel.

“I’m trying to raise money so I could get a new wheelchair because I don’t have one of my own,” said Solis, who fractured his spine in a 1998 skiing accident. “I’ve never had one since I have been hurt. I’ve been borrowing them from friends.”

Solis, a self-described “incomplete paraplegic,” said he has very limited muscle function in his lower body.

But losing primary use of his legs did not kill Solis’s hope, nor the drive to defeat overwhelming odds.

He hopes to raise enough money through his ride around the lake to purchase a wheelchair and pay off exorbitant medical bills.

“I also want to donate a percentage of the money to Disabled Sports, USA. They’re a nonprofit organization that helps introduce disabled athletes to sports,” Solis said. “If there’s anything left after that, I’d like to get some equipment so I could compete in triathlons and skiing, whatever. I have the ability to do a lot of stuff but I don’t have the equipment to actually enter any of the events.”

When asked his age, Solis said it is not important.

“I’m going to say, ‘age unknown,'” he said. (Hint: he’s older than 25 and younger than 35). “It’s not about how old you are. I don’t believe in age. It’s your will power that drives you. It’s like everybody kind of gauges what you do based on your age and it’s not about that.”

Aside from raising money, Solis said he hopes his ’round-the-lake ride will inspire other seriously injured and disabled people to conquer challenges.

“A huge reason why I want to do this ride is to help inspire all of the people who are in the hospital right now who may be disabled from an injury,” he said. “I want to show them life is not over now because of their injury. Life is definitely changed now, but they can accomplish anything they want to do and they shouldn’t feel like life is over.

“If this would inspire other people right now then that’s cool. I’m doing this within two years of my injury and I hope it shows people you can do anything. You just have to want it. Getting injured is the hardest thing to go through ever. It’s bad, but I love life and I’m showing it. I’m not letting anything stop me. I want to show people you can still get out there and charge.”

Solis will leave Strange Brew Coffee Lounge at 9 a.m. Tuesday and return to the coffee shop sometime Friday. He plans to wheel himself more than 12 miles Tuesday then camp at D.L. Bliss. His entire trip is almost 80 miles of road work.

“I don’t have brakes so I have to stop with my hands, squeezing the rims,” said Solis, who hopes to find a job which will allow him to work with disabled people. “I go through a lot of gloves and my hands get really hot and tired. I think the downhill is harder for me. It takes a lot of energy to slow down and as you get tired it’s a lot harder. But I’m just using what little I have and making the best of it.”

To sponsor Mario Solis by the mile, stop by Strange Brew, Planet Hollywood or Nutritional Warehouse for a sponsor sign-up sheet. Those who do not wish to donate by the mile may make a lump sum monetary donation. Any help is welcomed and appreciated. Solis hopes to raise at least $8,000 to buy a wheelchair, pay off medical bills and purchase equipment for competitions. There is an account set up for Solis at U.S. Bank. Make checks out to: Mario Solis Disabled Athletic Fund.

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