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Bucket List: Splore shares outdoor ‘magic’ with people with disabilities

Everybody has a life list; Splore helps the disabled cross off their outdoor adventure goals.

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"That is really where the magic happens. It is just eye-opening for therapists or family. They didn’t realize their family member or client was able to do as much as they do on a Splore trip," Donald said. "It is really empowering for them to be able to do it together."

Of course, getting on the river can be as refreshing and therapeutic to caretakers as it is to participants.

At a glance

The Utah

Bucket List

Check out the bucket list’s Facebook page — facebook.com/UtahBucketList — or follow @UtahBucketList on Twitter and tell us what’s on your list of things to do in this life.

‘Utah’s Bucket List 2,’ a collaboration between The Salt Lake Tribune and KUED-Channel 7, will air on Aug. 11 at 7 p.m.

About Splore

The Utah nonprofit launched in 1977 after founder Martha Ham visited a California group that provided outdoor recreational activities to people with disabilities. Splore started offering river-rafting trips in southern Utah.

It has added climbing, canoeing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to its mix and allows people without disabilities to participate in its programs. A fee is required for all trips, but scholarships are available. For more information, visit www.splore.org.

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Robertson made his first Splore trip in the mid-1990s and figures he has joined 20 or so since. The Salt Lake City resident also had someone special with him on the recent trip, but not for the first time.

After he married Carol, who also has cerebral palsy, nine years ago, it was only natural that she should come along. Floating a river and camping in the desert were things Carol Robertson did not think were possible for a wheelchair user before their wedding.

They were also things her mother would never have approved of.

"I am scared of the water and Carol is also scared of the water," Robertson said. "We cannot swim a lap. Her mother kept saying no. The first time she came on a trip it was sheer magic to open that curtain in her life. Her eyes showed the magic of Splore. After that trip she told everyone she would come back and leave me at home if I didn’t come back."

The Robertsons and Ford are certain they never would have been able to experience the wonders and therapeutic qualities of the wilds without Splore.

Others have agreed throughout the years, and that’s likely one reason many past participants have left assets to the nonprofit in their wills.

Robertson said he finds it sad and confusing that some people without disabilities will not make the effort to take a river trip, go climbing, or try other outdoor activities.

"It drives me crazy when I hear people don’t leave one square mile of their birthplace," he said. "People that don’t break out have the bigger handicap than I do. I heard a saying that if your dreams don’t scare you to death, they are not big enough, so I love to walk all over my fears. They’re not going to rule my life or Carol’s life."

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Twitter @BrettPrettyman

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