Mainstream fun is great, but it isn’t for Amber Ryan Marcy, a 31-year-old C6-7 quad and extreme sports junkie, from Saugatuck, Mich. She broke her neck at age 15 during a family camping trip when their van came to an abrupt halt, but she didn’t let herself fret over the usual SCI-worries.
“I wondered things like where I would be going camping with the ‘gang’ next summer,” she says. “I really didn’t think about what was not possible after my accident.” And she credits her family and friends for this. “I never felt left behind. My friends always found ways to include me, even if it meant carrying me up or down several stairs or hills or dunes to get from point A to point B.”
Her passion for all things extreme began when she went skydiving with friends in Mexico, post-injury. “It was the most freeing feeling I’ve ever experienced,” she says. She has been on six jumps to date. While enjoying the outdoors with nondisabled friends was fun, it took Marcy 10 years to discover adaptive extreme sports. “For years I was missing out on a whole other world. I really beat myself up for that now.” Marcy loved skydiving so much that when she was Miss Wheelchair Michigan in 2008, she organized a group skydiving event for fellow Miss Wheelchair America contestants.
Marcy also gets her adrenaline rush being one of the members of the Grand Rapids Thunder quad rugby team. “I couldn’t imagine playing tennis or basketball. I’ve always been a risk-taker and needed something more intense.” Other than rugby providing great exercise, she loves the camaraderie of it. “I think that’s my favorite part … that and being one of the only girls on the court!”