"Enabled" by Ian Ruhter
Words by Jill Webster
Ricky James' life goal was to become a professional motocross racer. Starting racing when he was 13, with the encouragement of his family, he quickly became an up and coming figure in the industry. In March of 2005, however, Ricky went off a jump and collided with another rider who tried to pass him. The collision threw him from his bike and headfirst into an embankment - his bike following him. Ricky suffered a split spinal chord and was paralyzed from the chest down. Ricky's determination and positive attitude pushed him through his rehabilitation period that was supposed to last six to eight weeks in only three. "I just wanted to get well," Ricky says. "It was kind of fun actually. It was like 'Let's just see how hard this can be and how fast I can do it.'" With the help of his dad, Ricky was able to do what he never thought was possible - to ride again. Starting off with his feet duct taped to the bike, then slowly progressing to an adapted bike, Ricky got accustomed to the feel of riding again, and as he put it, "I didn't want to ever get off [the bike]." He now regularly races, does jumps and back flips on the track, and has participated in one full Ironman triathlon and three half Ironman's in Hawaii. He is an advocate for all the leading stem cell research facilities in the world and strongly believes that with future medical advancements, he will be able to walk again. With that being his ultimate future goal, Ricky is setting out in hopes of doing some inspirational speaking at high schools and middle schools and living his life to the fullest.
Enabled is a project about disabled action sports athletes who step beyond their perceived limitations, to show us how being "disabled" is a state of mind. The goal is to reach out to both disabled and able-bodied individuals, including those who have an interest in photography and action sports. These stories will positively impact, and deliver encouragement to the disabled community as a whole. The project will be broken down into a documentary, traveling art show, book, and television episode.
Funding is currently being pursued to complete, and produce the final outcome of "Enabled." If you an art director, producer, TV network, magazine, company, etc., and are interested in learning more about the "Enabled" project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The above photos have been cropped for a preview. To see the complete collection of photos please request a link to the online portfolio.