WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – “I’m internally an Iron Man,” says Mike van Emmenes. “I have rods in my pelvis that will stay there for life.”
The result was a terrible biking accident in 2021. The Guilford dad suffered a shattered pelvis along with broken ribs and vertebrae.
Even so, one year and one week after this event, van Emmenes completed an Iron Man competition in Lake Placid.
“For me, to have my family there with me and to accomplish what I set out to do was tremendous, just tremendous,” he says.
Van Emmenes had recovered for four weeks at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare. Once better, he decided to give back by volunteering for the Gaylord Sports Association, helping those with physical disabilities experience the benefits of adaptive sports and recreation.
“Kayaking, archery, golf, some veterans programming, water skiing,” says program manager Katie Joly, naming just some of the activities. “I think it helps people feel like they’re starting to get their life back.”
Van Emmenes works as a guide for para tri-athletes like Brendan Faulkner who lost his leg in a medical catastrophe. The duo recently completed an event in Madison, working side-by-side.
“It’s really reassuring to see him just easily completing a leg of a race that’s causing me quite a challenge,” says Faulkner.
“Because he is an amputee, he needs a little help getting in and out of the water,” says head para-triathlon coach Doug Levens. “The bike and run is all moral support.”
“Here, I can still do my sport but help support someone else or other people it’s amazing,” says van Emmenes who plans to work with Faulkner again, using his unique experience to support and inspire. “Gaylord gave me a huge lease on life. They got me back to walking, running, doing what I wanted to do and working with the sports association is a fantastic thing to do.”
The Gaylord Sports Association is always looking for more guides.
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