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Adaptive Skate: A Life-long Love of Skateboarding

My name is Daniel Edmondson and I am the creator of The Adaptive Skate Coloring Book. It features adaptive as well as able-bodied skaters. It is my hope that the book be shared with anyone who might be recently injured and questioning their own ability. As well, I’d like the book to enlighten those who know nothing about disability.

I was in a train accident and lost both of my legs below the knee. I hate to lead with that but it caught me by surprise as well. My life was changed in profound ways. I had to relearn my balance on prosthetics and become accustomed to my new life as person with a disability.  

I’ve always been very active. I love being outdoors and I took every opportunity to go canoeing, biking, hiking or climbing. I’d always strived to be an adventurous person. After my accident I knew I was going to stay active, I just didn’t know exactly what it looked like yet. How capable would I be on prosthetics? At the time I was working as a pool manager and lifeguard instructor. I thought that I was going to have to completely change careers. I thought for sure I’d never skateboard again.

Amputation was traumatic and painful. It took time to heal both physically and emotionally. Early on I recognized I had an opportunity to approach my new life with positivity. I knew that how I dealt with this was going to set the tone for my future. Instead of being upset or dwelling on things I can’t change, I started laughing harder and hugging longer. After a terrifying near death experience I saw this as an opportunity to refocus my life and grow as a person.

Within months of receiving my prosthetic legs I recertified to lifeguard. I was even teaching swim lessons again. I got involved with the adaptive community early on. A Minnesota based amputee organization called Wiggle Your Toes connected me with a coaching position for the Wayzata/Minnetonka Lakers Adaptive Floor Hockey team. I was recovering at an accelerated rate. I amazed myself. I was back on my bike, and within the first year I was on a snowboard.

Another Minnesota amputee, Joel Goltry, invited me to a snowboarding clinic. I’d only been snowboarding maybe twice in my whole life. As a new amputee I was anxious to discover what I was truly capable of. It wasn’t long before I was carving the hill from top to bottom. While there I also met Matthew Hawkins of the Adaptive Skate Kollective. The following day the group went to the skate park where I stood on skateboard for the first time as an amputee.  

I’d made long strides in my healing but there was still lingering sadness. I was frustrated when my prosthetics wouldn’t work correctly. It bothered me that I had strangers coming up to me and ask about the most painful experience of my life. I was still very active, but there would be times that I’d be in a lot of pain from the sockets. I wanted to be able to just hop out of bed in the morning. Sometimes dealing with my prosthetics was just plain cumbersome.

I started drawing as a coping tool. I found it to be a very helpful outlet. One of my first creations was Pinocchio. I drew him as a real boy, but he still had wooden puppet legs. He was looking down and shrugging his shoulders. Above him in the caption was simply a question mark. I also drew Sonic the Hedgehog with running blades. A revelation hit as I drew Bart Simpson skateboarding on a prosthetic leg and it occurred to me that I should draw my adaptive skate friends.

After looking at several of the drawings side by side it became very obvious to me that what I had were the first draft illustrations of a coloring book. After drawing all winter I had enough to publish.

The Adaptive Skate Coloring Book features adaptive as well as able-bodied skaters. I did this intentionally, because honestly I don’t see how having a disability sets someone apart. A skater is a skater. In its pages are athletes and supporters of the Adaptive Skate Kollective. This amazing group of people changed my perspective on what is possible, not just as a ‘disabled’ person, but as a human being seeking excitement and adventure through the common bond of skateboarding.

Something I thought that was very interesting about the drawings, is that even though it’s drawn in a solid black lines, the disabilities became blurred. For instance, Justin is an amputee below both elbows. In the drawing he’s wearing pants so you cannot see that one leg is a prosthetic and the other leg is supported by an orthotic brace. Tatsiana is a bilateral leg amputee. In the picture the running blade is hiding the fact that the other leg is also a prosthetic. Someone who colors the book, not having met these people might look at Joseph’s page and wonder, “what’s their disability?” The answer is none. I propose the same answer could applied on every page. We all have obstacles. We all have pain and fear to overcome. What stands out isn’t the disability, it’s the action, the sport. Skateboarding teaches you how to fall, get up, and try again. It is both exhilarating and painful. Essentially, skateboarding is a metaphor for life.

I created the Adaptive Skate Coloring Book as a way to share my love of skateboarding. It is a thank you to those who’ve inspired me and a message to those seeking inspiration. I absolutely love seeing this book come to life in color. The stories I’ve received have been absolutely incredible. Had the train never happened, I never would have drawn it. Funny how life works sometimes.

Happy Coloring
~Daniel Edmondson  
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