"Enabled" by Ian Ruhter
Words by Jill Webster
It was supposed to be a fun trip to San Francisco for Brent Kummerle and a friend in 1995. Their car broke down on a major bridge going into the city and when Brent got out to start pushing, a truck smashed into their vehicle - pinning Brent between the two bumpers. he was airlifted to a hospital for about a week before being transferred to Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento, with whom his insurance was through, where they amputated one of his legs below the knee on his 24th birthday. Prior to the accident, Brent was an avid rock climber and knew immediately after the amputation that he wanted to continue climbing. Before he knew it, his friends and fellow rock climbers came to his aid and helped him get back into shape. One friend even drove him to Tahoe, Nevada, and had Brent belay him from his wheelchair. "It made clear where I was and the only thing that was going to get me down the road was myself wanting to do it," he says, also stating it was just a matter of focusing his discipline and concentrating on what he needed to do to get ahead that aided him in his recovery process. Brent's biggest inspiration was Mark Wellman, a paraplegic who climbed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in 1989. Now, Brent says, with the encouragement of his friends and his own hard work, he is able to climb harder than he ever was before he lost his leg. The face that he never had anyone to mentor him through the recovery process makes Brent even more serious about wanting to be a mentor for others. He heads up several clinics and examines ski and snowboard instructors for certification. Brent also runs a snowboard program at Kirkwood Mountain Resort for blind individuals, along with numerous other job titles throughout the various seasons. To Brent, the word disabled is just a medical and legal term. "I call myself disabled,"he says. "I'll have able bodied friends who laugh and say, 'Brent, you're not disabled.' And I'll tell them, 'Yes I am, you just need to change your perception of what disabled is.'"
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 special.
Sponsorship and funding are currently being pursued to complete and produce the final outcome of "Enabled." If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities please contact firstname.lastname@example.org . An online portfolio and treatment are available upon request.