Minneapolis City Pages May 4, 2016 : Page 14

they recounted the episode over pints at the Dog House. Sellie had watched that episode a half-dozen times, never notic-ing a second-long scene showing Halfy sitting on the floor because, well, he has no legs. It took him a moment to register how terribly offensive it was. “Most people are like, ‘That’s funny…’ But we’re like, ‘OHH, what? Hey, hey! That’s funny! That’s fucking funny!’” Joining them were skaters Daniel Edmondson and Troy Benesh, as well as Matt Hawkins, an adaptive skateboarding coach from Kansas City. They’re mountain-ous, athletic men embossed with tattoos and piercings. Below the table was their artillery of sleek, top-of-the-line prosthetic legs. They clinked glasses. “Sam, welcome to our amputee adventure club,” Goltry toasted. “Flingin’ stumps. Rush life.” The amputee community is growing, they told Sellie, because doctors are getting better at saving lives. In 2010, Goltry was living in Milwaukee when a car crashed into his motorcycle and crushed his leg. Edmondson was freight-hopping on Nicollet Island two years ago when he lost his grip on a ladder and slipped beneath the train. Benesh lost both legs to a staph infec-tion that grew from a microscopic cut on his pinky finger. Hawkins survived a 2008 wreck that left his car a twist of steel and glass. With more amputees in the world, the prosthetics industry responded with lighter, smarter, more dynamic limbs. This shrunk the once unbreachable channel between amputees and the able-bodied. That’s the promise of technological progress, the older men told Sellie. What’s harder is dumping the mental blocks that weigh them down. to the park meant everything was different — the foot placement, the pumping, hav-ing to kick where he used to drag. Muscle memory could drive a good skater crazy. Though Sellie had been a fountainhead of questions throughout the night, this gave him pause. At closing time, Goltry, Edmondson, and Hawkins resolved to reconvene at Walton. Sellie opted out. He’d been tired ever since “Welcome to our amputee adventure club. Flingin’ stumps. Rush life.” “But because you’re a skater, you already know how to push through pain,” Edmon-son said. “You roll up to a hill, you do it and you fuck up,” Hawkins added. “You do it again and you fuck up, it hurts. You’re like, all right, I’m gonna do it again.” Hawkins had been skateboarding heavily for a decade when his car crashed. Returning the surgery. In the middle of the night, the men charged into Walton, slipping and crash-ing and flying high. Goltry admits that he wouldn’t take his leg back for everything he’s accomplished since he lost it. The motorcycle accident was a wake-up call, an opportunity to quit his job at the screen printing business where he’d stagnated for years. He wanted to study prosthetics, and Century College in White Bear Lake happened to have one of the only programs in the nation. So he moved to North St. Paul and got his degree. It’s a novel idea — that life is better after amputation, all things considered. He wouldn’t trade his new life despite all the blood and the pain, the daily struggle and daily looks, the unwanted attention from Instagram fetishists and the dating complications of Tinder girls who ghost at mere mention of a handicap. Hawkins agrees. He didn’t have his head screwed on right before the wreck. He was a shithead who got into fights, broke into cars. Now he teaches skateboarding clinics for kids, and heads a network of amputee skaters from all over the country. Edmondson is more reticent as he reflects on that troubled year before his fateful “howl at the moon” moment. He’d been unwittingly enabling an alcoholic girlfriend who eventually broke his nose in a drunken outburst. He was laid off from a full-time job at the downtown St. Paul YMCA, and used the severance to buy a van, which sputtered out and died within a month. Broke and in pain, all he’d longed for as he reached for the passing train that winter night was an adrenaline shot to the heart. What the men know now — and what they 14   CITYPAGES.COM   MAY 4–10, 2016

DaVita Clinical Research c/o Patient Rec

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