Paralyzed bicyclist overcomes the odds to return to the sport he loves

DENVER -- The 2.5-mile long bike path around Denver’s Sloans Lake can be a bit of a workout whether you’re pedaling with your feet or your arms. But for Devin Butler, it’s as much of a mental journey as it is physical.

“When you have something taken from you, you never know truly how much something means until it’s gone,” he said.

Paralyzed from the chest down, Devin was an avid biker and runner before an accident ten years ago.

“I was riding my bicycle at about 7 a.m. A 19-year-old hit me with his car and left me for dead on the side of the road,” he recalled. “I lost three quarters of my body that day. Doctors were not sure I was going to live.”

Not only has Devin lived, he’s thrived. He has spent the past few summers taking advantage of the adaptive biking and water skiing programs offered by Denver Parks & Recreation.

“This program provides equipment able to use for the hand cycles, these beauties are very expensive because they are custom made for all of us,” He said.

Bruce Barnstable is one of the volunteers who goes along with the riders as they make their way around the park, making sure they don’t run into any trouble.

“I think the cool part for them is that they can go really fast,” Barnstable said. “Especially going down the hills in biking. You wouldn’t even know that they have a disability or an injury or anything.”

It’s that feeling of freedom that keeps bikers like Devin coming back week after week.

“Especially after you’re paralyzed or someone tells you you’re never going to be able to do a sport again. You come out and realize you can.”

Denver Parks & Recreation offers these events for eight Wednesdays every summer. Participants can try adaptive water skiing or biking for $5 each or do both sports for $8. Boat rides are $2. The drivers of the boats volunteer their time, boats and gas every week.

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