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

Slocan Valley Youth Centre starts teen summer reading challenge

Kids who read three different types of books by Aug. 31 will receive a special prize

Nelson’s police chief retiring

Chief Paul Burkart has given notice for the spring of 2021

Fresh local food for families goal of new West Kootenay EcoSociety program

Produce from three local organic farms will be delivered weekly to 54 low income families

LETTER: Park road only fit for a tank

From reader Sheila McCormack

LETTER: Three observations about Nelson

From reader Brian Zacharias

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Wedding party bear sprayed at Okanagan campsite irks locals

Latest criminal activity at the Meadows leaves locals frustrated

Paramedics fired for allowing patient to crawl for treatment on Downtown Eastside: court documents

The man spent three days in intensive care and three months recovering in hospital from sepsis

Feds seeking private consultant to design firearm buyback program

The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons

Face masks for teachers can impact learning on young children, experts say

Face coverings, mandatory in most indoor public places across the province, can help limit the spread of COVID-19

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

Most Read