Adaptive Athlete of the Month: James Abbs
Originally from Stone Mountain Georgia, James Abbs relocated to Virginia 10 years ago to play College Football. In 2017, Abbs was involved in a motorcycle accident which left him with a knee disarticulation amputation on the left side . Abbs may have lost a limb but he didn’t lose his heart! Abbs says that at times it can be a mental challenge but he continues to learn and excel in new ways with his prosthesis. As an extraordinary all-around athlete who has dominated in baseball, basketball, football and now wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball, Abbs will undoubtedly continue to excel in whatever else may come his way.
Not long after the accident at an appointment at Reach Orthotic and Prosthetic Services, Abbs expressed his interest in adaptive sports to his practitioner. Coincidentally, Honora Carlson-Strom, Founder of IncluZions, was shadowing that day and informed him of the local wheelchair basketball team, the SunWheelers and nonprofit Get Set 4 All, Inc. Following his life’s motto “Success takes shape in reality. When desire and action are bigger than excuses.” Abbs went to the Sun Wheeler’s wheelchair basketball practice and has been with the team ever since. When asked about what he loves about being an adaptive athlete Abbs stated,
“I love that I can get back out there and compete against other athletes that still have that drive to work hard and do what they love to do”.
Abbs has been repping 24 on the SunWheelers for almost two years now he has seen first hand the obstacles involved with recruiting athletes. Not only is it hard to locate those who would benefit from the program but
“it is hard to find people that want to try sports because of their disability or athletes that played before their injuries to try it again”.
Abbs participated in our first IncluZion event; Wreck the CourtZ hosted at Hampton University. At Wreck the CourtZ, students and adaptive athletes teamed up and to play wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball in order to raise money for adaptive sports in the Hampton Roads Area. After the event Abbs remarked,
“ [What] I hope to see from IncluZions is their support and help to get the word out to the community that there is a place where able bodied and people with disabilities come together, compete against one another all [while having] fun…”.
Abbs advice to those who are newly disabled is,
“That the road ahead is going to be tough and is going to have you starting to doubt yourself. But, if you keep pushing to get better and not give in to your disability, you will get stronger, do things and see things that you thought you couldn't do with your disability. And with love and support around, anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself.”
According to Abbs, the best way to break the barriers and remove the negative connotations to ‘disability’ is to,
“[Not] judge a book by their cover because you never know what that person can teach you and show you. Also come out, support and come play, unless you're to scared to get beat- just joking! But I promise you will have fun and you probably will work some muscles you haven't used in a while”.
Society has taught us to tip toe around the topic of disabilities. IncluZions is here to embrace individuality and build the bridge between communication with abled and disabled bodies. When asked what he would want people to know about disabilities Abbs states,
“No matter what disability a person may have, we can learn from each other and we should respect each other no matter what. At the end of the day, we are all human beings and should be treated no differently”.
Lastly to address the elephant in the room,
“I would like to say that people that have disabilities do not want you to feel sorry for what happened to them, but to be able to talk and tell their story. Honestly, next time you see someone with a disability don’t just be someone that stares. Go up to them and just ask how they are doing and watch how they light up with joy because you just made their day”
James Abbs: a husband, father, son, brother, friend and teammate who is always willing to help others and brightens up the day with his smile. Thank you to James Abbs of sharing his wise words as IncluZions Adaptive Athlete of the Month!