Blake, give us your back story and let us know how you got into WCMX?
My dad passed away when I was 14 years old, I stopped snowboarding for good after (it was something I always did with my dad). I didn’t skate nearly as often. He was extremely involved with my life and was always there for me with any sport I did, especially snowboarding. Action sports in general and Snow/skateboarding have always been my life growing up, I quit all traditional sports for it and action sports were all I cared about. Fast forward to getting paralyzed in a auto accident at the age of 18, I regretted not skateboarding nearly as often as I could and it was the worst feeling I’ve ever felt. I promised myself if I’m ever laid up in a hospital again i’m not going to regret how I lived my life. I don’t remember much the first few weeks after my injury, but close friends of mine told me I started talking about how I was going to skate on my chair. Right when I got a cell phone (mine got destroyed in the accident) I googled wheelchair skating and saw there were already people doing it. From that point that was all I focused on, it was my driving force to push through rehab and teach myself how to get my life back.
I promised myself if I’m ever laid up in a hospital again i’m not going to regret how I lived my life.Blake Simpson
RM: What impact do you hope your process/accomplishments have on people who use wheelchairs and the community as a whole?
I just want people to know what is possible, to focus on what we can physically and not to dread on what’s hard. I’ve learned so much through these past few years of my life, it’s amazing what can be accomplished when you really want something.
Being active in the disabled community, I’ve really learned to appreciate my life and EVERYTHING I CAN DO. I used to not even realize how valuable my life was, I took advantage of having things easy (for lack of a better statement.) My perspective about practically everything is different because of it.
What is one piece of information you’d like to pass along to the community who might not be as familiar with people who live with disabilities?
Just because someone has a disability, doesn’t mean that the person’s quality of life is or should be less than. I even assumed that right after my injury, in my case its turned out to be the opposite. I wish people would view disability differently, but I feel that can change the more people speak up about their lives.
I know in the not so distant past you’ve had some pretty intense health issues. Do you care to elaborate on that and/or share any words of wisdom that could help someone in a similar situation?
I’ve suffered from severe digestive issues the past 3-4 years of post my injury, I saw several doctors, a few gastroenterologist who didn’t take me seriously. I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis after having a abdominal scan. Then, after having a colonoscopy and endoscopy, I was sent to see my previous gastro doctor. He had a colonoscopy and endoscopy performed on me.
Turns out I also had nerve damage in my intestines due to using medical cannabis on a regular basis for years. I’ve always been anti-pharmaceutical medication and thought I was doing things healthy/naturally by treating myself daily with cannabis. Cannabis ended up hurting me. After years of use and medical confusion, the receptors in my intestines had a negative reaction to the drug.
Diet is very important, having gastroparesis on top of a neurogenic bowel I only eat nutrient dense highly bioavailable foods that my body can easily digest. I also space my meals hours apart and no snacking.
For anyone experiencing digestive issues that don’t seem to be getting resolved, don’t give up or stop trying to find a answer, even if you’re being told you’re fine. It took me 2 years of seeing several doctors to finally get answers. Diet plays a big role with anyone with a neurogenic bowel in the first place, finding foods that your body can easily digest is a must in my opinion.
Talk to me about the car… You drive fast. HAHA
Oh man, my car haha I LOVE that monster! I have a 2015 MK7 GTI. I’m turning into a handling track/canyon monster.
So far, I’ve upgraded the intercooler, intake, Bilstien suspension, replaced the downpipe, exhaust to 3 inches. I had the engine and DSG transmission tuned by 5150 racing. My favorite add on so far would have to be the Guidosimplex accelerator ring. Its a ring that goes in front of the steering wheel that allows me to have both hands on the wheel and use my paddle shifters with ease.
Next on the list is front and rear sway bars and a Wavetrac LSD which will transform how the car handles and powers out of corners. It’s also a 2 door hatchback which gives me plenty of room to get in/out and bring all of the necessary equipment I need for WCMX.
What has been your proudest moment in this process?
My proudest moment would definitely be placing 2nd at the 2018 WCMX World Championships. That was a hard year for me. I had no skate chair for months before the competition. I managed to get a new one just a couple weeks before the event. I wasn’t used to the chair at all and still wasn’t performing as I was on my previous chair. I ended up slamming on my elbow the day before finals and barley was able to push through my runs, exhausted and beat down.
Listening to the announcer calling out the results was nerve-racking, and I got very emotionally when I heard I placed 2nd behind the best of the best. Turns out I was only 1 point ahead of who got #3, it was a very tough competition and definitely is a highlight of my life! I can’t wait to compete again after what I’ve gone through the last 2 years, I’m hungry for it!