Jesse Schpakowski and Tanelle Bolt fell in love on an adventure last summer. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

Tanelle Bolt was not expecting to find love on her paddle and bike from Revelstoke to Nelson last summer, but she did.

“I was quite single and just taking a vacation in the woods,” she said with a laugh.

That ‘vacation’ involved kayaking down the Columbia River, across Upper Arrow Lake, then biking by hand crank along the Slocan Valley Rail Trail. The catch – Bolt has a severe spinal cord injury and cannot walk.

Bolt did the trip with another athlete, Ethan Krueger, who similarly is paraplegic. Also on the trip was filmmaker Jesse Schpakowski. Bolt and Schpakowski soon fell in love.

READ MORE: Disabled athletes paddle and bike from Revelstoke to Nelson

READ MORE: Upcoming film: Two paralyzed adventurers paddle and bike from Revelstoke to Nelson

The goal of the trip was to raise awareness and create a documentary exploring what it means for people facing barriers to follow their passions.

While paddling across Slocan Lake, Bolt felt something similar to an “electric shock”.

“It was like the tension released when you break a screw in half, except it was through my whole body,” remembered Bolt.

Turns out, the titanium rods in her back had snapped due to wear and tear.

“You could hear the creaking and cracking. She sounded like a broken piece of furniture,” said Schpakowski.

Bolt stopped to make sure no blood and nothing was protruding. Once satisfied, she continued paddling and biking the remaining 80 km to Nelson.

Now, several months later Bolt is getting surgery to remove the rods.

Bolt injured her spine five years ago, jumping 60 feet from a bridge into a river on Vancouver Island. When she landed, Bolt said she must have hit debris.

“Could have been something as small as a pine cone or plastic bag,” she said in a previous interview with Black Press. The accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Schpakowski has launched a GoFundme to help Bolt with costs associated with the surgery, such as rehabilitation and physiotherapy.

Bolt leads an incredibly active life. According to the GoFundMe page, she is Canada’s first female wheelchair bodybuilder, bronze medal winner for Canada in adaptive surfing and the country’s only competitive paraplegic golfer.

View this post on Instagram

Staying on the bandwagon with this #motivationmonday Today I’m the one that could use the motivation… This photo was taken June 22. I broke the hardware (rod that fixes me T3-T9 is currently fractured above my T6) in my back the first week in July. This broken hardware is in my head and I have used it to avoid a handful of activities, staying out of the gym. All this lack of exercise has done is made me weak both physically and mentally. I have had 6 doctors appointments (doc, X-ray, doc, bloodwork, CT scan) and am no closer to knowing whether or not these broken pieces are able to be removed or have to be replaced. Just cut me open and solve the damn problem already! Today it’s time to say fuck it! The docs don’t seem concerned about it so why should I?!?! …and that deciding appointment doesn’t come until mid Nov 🤦‍♀️ #getintoit #screwitjustdoit #adaptivefitness #adaptiverecreation #wheelchairbodybuilding #cpa #sci #adaptdefy #tanellesjourney

A post shared by Tanelle Bolt (@tanellebolt) on

Bolt is also an advocate for making the world a more accessible place for those with mobility challenges. Although Canada did pass the Accessible Canada Act last year, which aims to crack down on discrimination based on disabilities, the act has been heavily criticized. For example, the bill uses “may” rather than “shall” when describing government actions. This means in theory that the government is empowered to take action but not required to follow through. The act also allows the federal government to exempt organizations, including itself, from putting in accessibility measures.

Bolt said Canada is years behind other countries when it comes to legislation aimed at addressing accessibility.

Even the country Panama is more accessible to people with mobility problems than Canada said Bolt.

“I can get into far more businesses there than I can in Vancouver or Victoria.”

She continued that most businesses in Panama have a wheelchair ramp, which isn’t so in Canada.

Bolt said after the trip last summer, she learned she was able to exceed what she thought her physical limits were. It gave her hope for the future. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

According to the Canadian government, one in five Canadians over the age of 15, have a mobility disability.

It’s time, she said, to stir the pot and make noise.

“It’s 2020, Canada is so far behind in inclusion.”

Schpakowski said no one is immune to disabilities. According to data from the Canadian government, the percentage of Canadians with mobile disabilities significantly increases with age.

“It can change in an instant. I could slip on ice tomorrow and break my back,” he said.

This spring, Bolt is aiming to put together an adaptive team of hand cyclists in the first adaptive gravel Gran Fondo from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories.

Schpakowski said Bolt inspires him every day.

“She’s really opened my eyes in a big way. To an entirely new world I never knew.”

The documentary What If will premiere at the upcoming North Valley Mountain Film Festival in Silverton, B.C. on Feb. 29.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Adventure

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Slow melt at high elevations near Revelstoke this spring

At one location on Mt. Fidelity there is double the usual snowpack for early July

Summerland Ornamental Gardens remain closed

Staff and volunteers continue to weed and maintain plants

‘It’s really frustrating’: B.C. Indigenous groups share impact of border closures

The closures have resulted in disputes between Indigenous groups and local businesses

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Interior Health identifies more locations with COVID-19 exposure in Kelowna

Anyone who participated in events in the Kelowna downtown and waterfront area between June 25 and July 6 should monitor closely for symptoms

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

New comet appears in pre-dawn sky above Cranbrook

Neowise can be seen without a telescope over the next couple of weeks

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Most Read