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Lars on Usedom

He who races with wolves

Spend every single day in a wheelchair? Lars would be bored out of his mind. So for a change of pace, the 23-year-old psychology student switches to a dogsled and lets eight huskies pull him at high speed along a Baltic Sea beach.

At the sound of the wolves howling from the other side of the dike, the relaxed expression disappears from Lars’ face. Just a moment earlier he was quietly scanning the sea. Lars, 23, a psychology student, whose disability makes him dependent on a ventilator and wheelchair, wants to hang out with his parents at the Baltic Sea for the weekend. But when the eerie howling begins, Lars doesn’t look very relaxed at all. Then a broad smile spreads across his face. “Finally! There they are!” he says to his parents Inge and Michel, standing on the sand nearby.

"I can live the way I want to, do really crazy stuff." Lars
"Pack Lars in cotton padding just because he has this disability? No way! The boy should experience life." Inge
"As long as my bones hold up, I'll carry Lars up every mountain." Michel

The howling gets closer and then the first leashed wolf appears on the beach. Wait a second – a wolf on a leash? No, of course not. That’s not a wolf on the sand near Heringsdorf on Usedom, but a husky, a sled dog followed closely by seven other huskies, a complete dogsled team. They are accompanied by a strong, bald man who is pulling a four-wheel cart behind him and a petite blond woman who shouts out commands to the pack of hounds, telling them where to go. That is, straight to Lars and his parents.

“The dogs can hardly wait,” says Marianne, the dogsled musher, when she gets within shouting distance. “How are you doing, Lars?” “I’m exited!” he says. “It’s going to be pure freedom!”

"To do exactly what I want. When I want, how I want, where I want ... For me that is absolute freedom!" Lars
"Nothing is impossible. Miracles just take a little longer." Michel

Freedom is very important to Lars. Diastrophic dysplasia has left him with arms and legs that are shorter than extremities of other adults. His spinal cord and breathing muscles are damaged, so at night he depends on LUISA, his ventilator. During the day LUISA gives him support when he exerts himself. At this moment Lars is being ventilated to make him strong for the upcoming adventure.

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But first a flashback. Just one day earlier Lars, Inge and Michel checked out the musher camp in Heringsdorf to which mushers and their dogs had traveled for a race on Usedom. Lars started up a conversation with the musher couple Marianne and Dirk. When they learned of his long-prepared plan, they were all in. “You want to ride along? Sure! We can do that!” Dirk said. 

 

"Fast rides can be made with carts too, with up to 30 kilometers per hour." Marianne
"Letting myself be pulled in the buggy by eight sled dogs: there is flow and speed, like being weightless." Lars

Less than 24 hours later, Lars is being strapped into a special car seat that had been fastened to the training cart with lashing straps. The dogs are barking impatiently. Lars is finally ready to go. He sits up front on the cart with Marianne behind him in musher position. A quick command and the dogs begin running, the cart behind them getting off to a jerky start. Mushers use training carts when there isn’t enough snow for sleds. Fast rides can be made with carts too; Marianne promises up to 30 kilometers per hour. Now the cart is racing toward the horizon – with an astonished Inge watching every move.

“Look! Look at that!” she calls excitedly to her husband. Michel looks, but doesn’t say a word. The same for Dirk, whose eyes tear up.

And Lars? He sits in the cart, grinning from ear to ear, enjoying the speed and the flow. The wind whistles past him and every uneven spot on the ground shakes him up. “That was so cool,” he says later after being lifted back onto his wheelchair. “It was like I was weightless!”

"That was so cool. It was like I was weightless!" Lars
"Our motto since we've had Lars is: Nothing is impossible." Inge
"In the evening when I'm on the ventilator, I can let go. That is pure relaxation." Lars

In the evening at the hotel, spirits are still high. Lars and Michel are already planning the next adventure. Lars would love to go diving. “Unfortunately,” he says, “we haven’t come up with a solution for the ventilator.” Hearing that, Inge can only shake her head and say, “Sometime, somehow, we’ll manage that too. It’s always been that way. Since we’ve had Lars, our motto is Nothing is impossible.”

Löwenstein Medical Technology GmbH + Co. KG
Kronsaalsweg 40, 22525 Hamburg
Germany

Phone +49 40 54702-0
Fax +49 40 54702-461
E-mail info@loewensteinmedical.de
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