‘Fear’ is not in his vocabulary
May 25, 2007
SILT, Colo. ” The cars lining the shelves in Bobby Layman’s room reflect the 19-year-old’s love for life in the fast lane. The mini replicas, mostly of European automobiles and neatly aligned on high shelving less than a foot from the ceiling, nicely complement walls blanketed in ski ” and, of course, car ” posters, sketchings and paintings.
Layman, a resident of Silt, was never one to sit idle and let life pass him by before suffering a brain injury during a ski accident at Snowmass more than three years ago.
And, despite his post-injury ailments, absolutely nothing has changed.
Shortly after his accident, doctors told the Layman family Bobby wouldn’t make it. Not long after that, they said he’d never be able to walk or talk again, that he’d remain in a vegetative state.
“We just kept saying, you don’t know Bobby,” Mary Layman, Bobby’s mother, said.
“Before I could even walk (again) I told my mom I was going to ski Highlands Bowl again,” said Bobby, wearing a black Aston Martin hat and bright red Puma shoes emblazoned with a Ferrari logo. “She said, ‘Wait a minute, let’s get you up and walking first.'”
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Sure enough, Bobby eventually made the hike up Highlands and skied down with Challenge Aspen, an organization that provides recreational opportunities for those faced with physical or mental challenges.
Telling Layman, a 2006 Rifle graduate, it can’t be done only fortifies his will.
“In soccer, my goal was to play varsity as a freshman and I did that,” he said. “Nothing gets in my way.”
That impenetrable spirit is a big reason why Layman will be in Colorado Springs for the June 1-4 National Paralympics Academy at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
He’ll join 44 other students with physical disabilities and 25 coaches from throughout the nation in Colorado Springs, where they’ll be introduced to different Paralympics sports and put themselves in the shoes of students with disabilities different from theirs.
“It’ll just be a new look at different disabilities,” Bobby said, “because I’m only one kind of disability. That’s all I know. There are a lot more out there.”
Layman certainly has plenty to offer his academy mates, his story is as inspiring as they come.
“Being active and passionate about sports is what keeps me moving forward,” he wrote in his academy application letter to the U.S. Paralympics. “My focus is on learning what I can do. Sports are what built my character prior to my crash and they are the foundation of my future.”
Bobby’s favorite sports are skiing and soccer, and his disability keeps him from neither. He’s still active on the local slopes, and was on the slopes roughly 11 months after his injury.
“I wish I could figure out how to ski year round,” he wrote in his application letter. “Following six months in hospitals, I was anxious to return to the slopes. My parents thought it was a great idea to learn to breathe and walk again first.”
Others might shy away from revisiting the site of a life-changing accident, but not Layman. Fear is clearly not in his vocabulary.
Bobby also finds his way back to the pitch for a little soccer whenever he gets the chance. He attended a Paralympics soccer clinic in Denver a couple years ago and wishes there were such opportunities locally.
“It’s just harder to find teams to play with,” he said.
Hopefully he can pick up a new sport or two in Colorado Springs.
“He’ll learn to do the other guys’ sports,” Mary Layman said.
On top of that, Bobby hopes to spread encouragement and inspiration to his fellow students.
“I’ll just tell them that their disability isn’t the end of their recreating,” he explained, “but the beginning of new ways to learn things.”