Paradox Sports was created by an eclectic group of individuals with a common desire to integrate the physically disabled into the outdoor community by providing inspiration, opportunities, and the adaptive equipment needed to participate in human-powered outdoor sports.
DJ Skelton | Tim O’Neill | Malcolm Daly
I woke up. The room surrounding me was all white. There was mom and dad looking at me as though they thought this moment would never arrive. Then the doctor comes in. “DJ…you are safe now. You are in America. You are safe. DJ…everything is going to be alright now.” I lost my left eye. I lost the roof of my mouth and upper jaw. I lost the use of my left arm. There is a hole through my right leg the size of a fist. “Everything is going to be alright?” Are you serious? Can you not see I am disabled?
You know, it’s amazing how three years later, my life has evolved around that one phrase, “Everything is going to be alright.” That doctor couldn’t have been more dead on. I was alive. I had this great community surrounding me, helping me to get back on my path in life, pursuing my goals and dreams regardless what the obvious may seem.
We tend to live life as if it were an equation. To be successful you must do this, or have this title or position. To be beautiful you must look like this person, or wear this brand. When I woke up in the hospital, I realized that I had gotten sidetracked in this life with the immaterial. Family, friends, community, that was my medicine that helped me get back to living. Not living a life that was 2nd rate, but pursuing a life that was just as enriched and fulfilling as everyone else’s. Does one really need arms to climb? How about legs to ski? With the marvels of modern technology and the phenomenal power of the human spirit, there truly is no limit to how far one can push themselves in life.
I was walking down a hallway at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC when a friend of mine rolled up beside me. He had lost both of his legs in Iraq. He told me he had heard I had started rock climbing again and wondered if it was possible for him to climb again? He had met his wife through climbing and it had always been a big part of their lives. Instantly I responded, “Hell yeah! Let me know when and I’ll take you to the local gym.” That night, I couldn’t sleep. I kept asking myself, “How is someone with no legs supposed to climb? I can’t let him down. There has got to be a way.” I called the only person I knew who would have the desire and expertise to help me pull this off, Timmy O’Neill. After many phone conversations and emails, we pulled together a great group of climbers and some specialized gear and picked a date and location, SportRock Gym in Sterling, VA. As the word spread, more and more patients at Walter Reed showed interest in our clinic. Before long, there were over a dozen patients of all injuries signed up. The morning of the clinic Timmy, Reid, myself and the crew were all at the gym going over last minute plans. At one point, the comment was made, “We have absolutely no clue what we are about to deal with…some of these are just theories based off of past attempts. But, we got the gear, we got the heart, and we got the attitude…what more do we need!”
Welcome to Paradox Sports. All you have to do is just show up…and the rest is too easy. Life is too easy, folks. Once you get over the fact that life is not supposed to be but just is as it is right now, life becomes too easy. Deal with it and keep pushing forward. We are not teaching you anything you don’t already know. We are just reminding you that you are amazing and you have unlimited potential to achieve greatness in this life.
Live life on your own terms…
When I was 21 years old my brother Sean broke his back and became a T-12 paraplegic. Fifteen years later in Yosemite National Park we climbed the 3,000 feet of El Capitan in six-nights and seven-days. I realized then the significance of introducing people with so-called disabilities to activities deemed impossible and saw the joy and inspiration these endeavors brought to everyone involved. Since that first ascent I have kayaked, skied, climbed and hiked with numerous paraplegics, amputees and blind athletes and the resulting goodness has grown exponentially in my life.
In January of 2007 my ice climbing partner, Chirs Hunnicutt fell while on lead and tragically died. His death brought a sharp paradigm shift and forced me to confront the delicate and temporal nature of my life. Days later I traveled to D.C. to assist D.J. Skelton, co-founder of Paradox Sports, with a climbing event
involving injured veterans back from the Iraq War. Our common bond was not only surviving while others around us had died but also the satisfaction and exhilaration afforded through climbing. D.J.’s enthusiasm and empathy for the injured, being a disabled vet himself, impressed me profoundly and I knew this man’s mission was my own. That day we planted a seed that grew into today’s Paradox Sports: a reflection of the truly indomitable and irrepressible human spirit that is fostered through the exploration of wild places both internally, in our minds and hearts and, externally, in our rivers and mountains.
A T-12 paraplegic climbs a sheer granite monolith using only his upper body; a person afflicted with childhood polio with now withered legs ascends a massive alpine wall at 14,000 feet above sea level; a kayaker missing almost an entire arm descends 225 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon; a blind man reaches the summit of the world’s tallest peak.
These examples personify the paradox that life is not always what it seems. That life is not over for those who are physically and mentally challenged but on the contrary it has just begun again, in a unique way. When I meet these people I never turn my head and look away but instead look longer and deeper for the beautiful lessons they have, for me and for all of us. My personal economy is founded in life, laughter and love, and Paradox Sports is my savings account. Join us and make a deposit of your time and energy and receive a dividend that transcends monetary value: the absolute bliss of bringing someone further into to life; a beautiful gift with an amazing reward.
Malcolm is an icon in the outdoor world with 32 years of outdoor industry and non-profit experience. Known for his affability, sense of humor and to-the-point insight, Malcolm’s wide-ranging business, outdoor sports and non-profit experience provides for a lively, entertaining and educational encounter.
Malcolm is the founder of Great Trango Holdings, Inc. a leading supplier of innovative climbing equipment (Trango) and women’s activewear (Stonewear Designs). Starting the company from scratch in 1991 Daly built it into a multi-million dollar company doing business in 17 countries. During that time he started up two non-profits in the climbing world: the Access Fund, dedicated to retaining access to climbing resources and the Action Committee for Eldorado, a climber’s advocacy and liaison group specific to Eldorado Canyon State Park. Daly was an active board member of the Access Fund for thirteen years.