"Enabled" by Ian Ruhter
Words by Jill Webster
In July of 2004, Danielle Burt's life was forever changed. A skateboarder and avid athlete, she was riding motorcycles with some friends on Mt. Palomar in San Diego, California. Rounding a corner that was sharper than she had anticipated, she quickly applied the breaks. Her Harley went straight up in the air and she was thrown into the guard rail and down the side of the mountain, about 45 feet. The only thing stopping her from falling the full 400 feet was some dry brush. "Whenever you are taken to the hospital, the paramedic's rate you on a scale of 1-10, one meaning you are fine, ten meaning you were dead when they picked you up and dead when you arrived at the hospital. I was a nine, meaning I was alive when they reached me but as good as dead when I got there," Danielle writes on her web profile. Her injuries consisted of a non-displaced fracture in her spine, broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and a smashed right leg, among others. Her leg was amputated above the knee and she was in a coma for a month and a half. "I feel like I was taking advantage of it [life] a lot before my accident. I wasn't doing anything, I didn't have any major goals in life, just messing around for the most part," she says. Wishing she could get back to her active lifestyle, but deterred by the idea of doing it with one leg, Danielle admits she was depressed after the accident. Out of the blue, however, someone got a hold of her to tell her about Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit organization dedicated to athletes with permanent physical disabilities. At an event sponsored by AAS, Danielle met Sabrina - another female skateboarder who had an above the knee amputation. "She told me I should do it," Danielle says. "It gave me the courage and inspiration to be like' I can still do it, I just have to do it a different way than before.'" Now one of their core athletes, Danielle tours with AAS to help out wherever needed - either at events, competitions, or camps. "People stare or whatever but I've gotten past that," she says. "People think that just cause you're disabled, you're not strong anymore and you're not capable. I know a lot of amputees that do a lot more than able-bodied people that I know. We're out there."
Enabled is a project about disable 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
We are currently pursuing funding to complete, and produce the final outcome of "Enabled." If you are an art director, producer, TV network, magazine, etc., please contact firstname.lastname@example.org . The above photos have been cropped for preview. To view the complete collection of photos please request a link to the online portfolio.