A new life: Since losing the use of her legs, Candace Cable has taken her life in a new direction | SierraSun.com

A new life: Since losing the use of her legs, Candace Cable has taken her life in a new direction

ERIN ROTH, Sierra Sun

When she was 21, Truckee resident Candace Cable suffered a spinal injury in a car accident and was told she would never walk again.

Before the accident, Cable lived a seemingly carefree life in Tahoe. She was socially active, she skied, and she worked as a blackjack dealer in South Shore. She said that she loved to wear high heeled shoes, short skirts and have long nails. With her dark brown hair and bright blue eyes, Cable could be seen as an American beauty.

But after the accident, she came to the harsh realization that she would no longer be able to live as the person she was before. No more high heels or short skirts, and she discovered her long nails would catch in the spokes of her wheelchair.

“I realized that who I was in the past wasn’t going to work anymore,” Cable said.

Cable said she went through a period of depression as she struggled to figure out what to do with her life and how to live as a paraplegic.

“I had to completely re-invent myself,” Cable said. “It was hard because I felt I had absolutely no role models. I felt very alone and very isolated.”

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Cable claimed to not have a role model when she needed it most, and years later, she now serves as one herself.

Although Cable, 46, said she was not athletic before her accident, in the 25 years since, she has turned her life around and become one of the most successful athletes in the world.

Cable has won the Boston Marathon six times in the women’s wheelchair division, she has competed in three Olympics: Los Angeles, Seoul and Barcelona, and earned medals in the Olympics twice for the 800 meter track event. She has also won nine gold medals in the Paralympics for various events, has become a member of the U.S. Wheelchair Sports Team and the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, won medals numerous times in alpine and cross country ski racing, has been awarded, honored and recognized by many organizations, and is an inspirational public speaker.

And now, Cable is now embarking on a new and noble adventure beginning in September.

She has been selected as one of 65 women from around the country who will participate in Girls on the Move, an innovative journey that combines a 10-week cross-country bicycling expedition with community events, outreach and education to celebrate strong women and raise awareness about self-esteem problems in girls ages six to 18. Women from all over the U.S., ranging in age from 18 to 72, were selected to participate in Girls on the Move based on their ability to meet the physical and mental challenge of the ride, an understanding and passion for girls’ and womens’ issues, previous leadership experience and demographic diversity.

Girls on the Move has organized an inspirational team of riders, high profile celebrities, spokespersons, corporate sponsors and partnering organizations who have committed themselves to uniting women of all ages in a demonstration of physical, mental and emotional health.

Girls on the Move is a special project of the adventure-based education program Outward Bound and was developed by a group of Outward Bound instructors who witnessed positive shifts in girls’ perceptions through physical challenge and self-achievement.

Cable was selected from hundreds of applicants to be a role model and a rider, as she and other women will bicycle 3,865 miles across the country and strive to directly impact girls through community and educational outreach.

“I didn’t feel there was anyone else in my position after the accident,” said Cable. “I didn’t feel there was anyone else like me, anyone who understood what I was going through. I hope that I can use my disability to show people that we all have obstacles and if we can turn those obstacles into challenges they become more do-able and we can overcome them. We are all in this together, we are all the same. We struggle with the same problems, and we all feel isolated, alone and challenged sometimes.”

The riders will also be a part of a national public education campaign with celebrities like Amy Jo Johnson from WB’s ‘Felicity,’ Jackie Joyner Kersee, Mia Hamm, Kerri Strug, Dominique Dawes and Courtney Thorne-Smith from Fox’s ‘Ally McBeal.’

Cable said Girls on the Move is the biggest task she has ever tried to accomplish, physically and mentally. She said that riding cross-country has always been a life-long dream of hers and that she is a little nervous but very excited.

“I had to choose between this and competing in the paralympics in Sydney, Australia,” said Cable. “I’ve always wanted to ride across America, it’s been a lifetime goal, so I thought, ‘I have to do this.’ It’s so different from anything I have ever done, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m going to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Cable said that she hopes to change people’s minds and give them something to think about.

She will be keeping an e-mail journal and have a digital camera during the ride for supporters to check on her progress.

Cable will ride the almost 4,000 miles by using a hand-cycle. Hand-grips take the place of the normal foot-pedals, and her hands will move in a circular, synchronized motion to power her along.

Cable has been training six days a week. She weight-trains, swims, hand-cycles and uses an arm-ergometer to prepare for the ride. Her longest ride, so far, has been four hours, and she occasionally takes her yellow Labrador, Homey, along on shorter rides.

Cable said there will be two other disabled riders. Though she will be the only woman using a hand-cycle, there will be a blind rider who will ride on the back of a tandem bike, and a deaf rider.

“I have already met most of the women who will be riding in Girls on the Move,” said Cable. “There is a wide variety of women. Everyone is very diverse, and I strongly feel that all of the women are powerful, creative and inspiring. I was blown away by the energy. This ride will help many girls but it will also be two and a half months of therapy for me.”

Cable said she hopes to come away with many life-long friendships after the ride is over.

Girls on the Move begins Sept. 9 in Portland, Oregon, and will make stops in communities across the country, including Denver, Chicago and Philadelphia, before ending in New York City on Nov. 18.

Cable said that she feels her accident has changed her life for the better. After Girls on the Move, Cable looks forward to competing in the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

To find out more about Candace Cable, visit her website, created by Wham 3 Consulting and her boyfriend, Michael Byxbe, at http://www.candacecable.com.

For more information on Girls on the move, call (887) 503-GOTM or visit the website at http://www.girlsonthemove.com.