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Adaptive Sports Helps Utah Man Persevere With Paralysis

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A West Jordan man had to re-learn the basics of life after he was paralyzed from the waist down in a rollover ATV crash. But it didn’t take Marshall Evans long before he was back in the mountains, feeling the freedom of his favorite activities.

“I knew that getting outside was important to me,” Evans said as he unloaded his adaptive bicycle from his pickup truck.

He has enjoyed that chore because it means he’s going for a ride.

“I can get back out on the mountain on a ski, or on the bike, and all of the exterior things go away,” he said. “Like, all I’m focused on is the bike.”

He gets to feel the freedom and independence of movement again.

Evans was skillful on mountain bikes, motorcycles and ATVs before his crash at the Little Sahara Sand Dunes three years ago.

“I rolled over at the top of the mountain and wasn’t wearing my harness and was ejected out of the machine,” he said.

He said his body was pinched in between the sand and the machine.

He broke his back at the T12 vertebrae and Evans was paralyzed from the belly button down.

“You have to start all over from scratch again,” he said. “The recovery was rough. The first week I was in ICU.”

In rehab, he discovered Wasatch Adaptive Sports and was skiing and biking with them six months after he left the hospital.

Evans said he loves those physical activities because they make him feel independent.

“It lets me not think about, ‘Oh, I’m injured, or oh this is tough,'” he said. “I’m back to doing my life the way that I enjoy it.”

Recently, he realized he wanted to help others with disabilities and share some of the discoveries he has made in the last few years.

“Independence for me was one of my big goals,” he said. “It’s what I feel was taken from me from my injury, and I want to be able to give that back to people.”

He has learned how to teach others to ride adaptive bicycles and is in classes all week with others who are learning similar skills.

“That’s what will make me happy,” Evans said.

Jared Dangerfield, the program coordinator at Wasatch Adaptive Sports, liked what Evans offered as a teacher.

“It’s great if I can teach something, but it’s even cooler if a peer who’s been through a similar situation can teach you that skill,” Dangerfield said.

Evans has taken his passion to a new level to help others and to continue his own growth.

“When I’m riding the bike or riding the ski, I don’t feel like I’m slowing the group down,” he said. “I can go out with my able-bodied friends and they’re not waiting for me.”

Adaptive sports have enabled Evans to not only keep up with his peers, but to keep growing as an athlete and a teacher.

More information on Wasatch Adaptive Sports can be found at their website.

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