Accessible for All: Bellyaking with Paralysis
Kyle Morgan is a C5-6 quadriplegic due to an automobile accident in 2010. Pre-injury he was an outgoing young man seeking a career in the U.S Army. After one night of celebrating, his life was torn into pieces.
“The most challenging part about dealing with paralysis isn’t that you can’t walk anymore, it’s not being able to do any of the things I used too,” Kyle said. “I was always outdoors and involved in sports, after my accident I thought all those days were over.”
After two years of being bound to a fully power assisted wheelchair Kyle had had enough. He moved from a small town in Western North Carolina to the state’s capital: Raleigh, NC. He began physical therapy and pushed himself daily. He graduated to a power assisted manual chair and didn’t stop there. He began playing Murder Ball (Wheelchair Rugby), but due to the cost of the sports equipment and travel expense he had to put it on hold. That set back didn’t stop him though. He came across a new sport called Bellyaking and reached out to the CEO Adam Masters.
“When I saw the Bellyak I knew I could use it,” Kyle said. “I always loved swimming pre-injury but afterwards being a quadriplegic I felt as if swimming was a thing of the past.”
A Partnership is Formed
Adam liked Kyle’s attitude so much he lent him a Bellyak to try out.
“The moment I got on the Bellyak and was pushed into the water I felt comfortable and actually very safe.” Kyle said, “Due to the Bellyak having a low center of gravity the boats are incredibly stable. I was unaware of the workout I was getting until after about 30 minutes when I got into my chair I couldn’t push myself back to my van. It was by far the best workout I’ve ever had.”
The Best Bits
The best part about the Bellyak stepping into the adaptive sports community is it’s cost efficient. Sports such as Handcycling, Murder Ball and wheelchair basketball cost around $3,000 to start. A Bellyak – complete with paddle gloves and a rear skeg (fin) – is $695 out the door. On top of it being new to the world of adaptive sports, Adam Masters is making minor adjustments to make it more comfortable for those with skin issues. These boats are ready to use right off of the shelf.
Kyle’s new motto: “I may not have 100 percent, but I use 100 percent of what I have.”
Kyle Morgan is on Team Bellyak as an adaptive athlete and an active ambassador to help the differently-abled get on the water. Kyle is also “Chief Motivator.”
See Kyle’s story on video here.