The concept of ABLE2 is quite simple. If you have a disabilty you are still 'able2' do anything and to prove this theory we jetted off to South Africa backin 2009 and jumped off a bridge...with an elastic cord tied round our waist.
Any disability webmaster with an once of common sense would had been a few hundred miles away from where I find myself at the moment. They would had pulled out all the stops to find an interesting story to launch their new look website, just like myself. They may had even followed in my anti-carbon footsteps and traveled to South Africa. It's the start of Spring and in the center of Cape Town the Disability Workshop Development Enterprise (DWDE) is about to commence, a chance for entrepreneurs with disabilities to shine. This is where a normal crippled reporter in South Africa would be, a few hundred miles away from here!
I am a few meters away from Bloukrans Bridge, nested somewhere on The Garden Route - a spectacular coastline which connects from Mossel Bay to Storms River. The bridge is 216 meters high. How can I be so exact? Because that is the distance quoted in the Guinness Book Of Records for the Worlds Highest Commercial Bungee Jump which I am about to do.
After surviving the 'Flying Fox' which is a cable slide which takes adrenaline junkies to their jump base centered on the bridge I am greeted by a few South African who are all keen to ask where I am from. They are energetic and full of life. Oh, and ready to throw me off the bridge!
The first assignment is to tie my feet together using strong (I hope!) cord. I am instructed to place my trembling legs through a harness which is then tightened. Trouble is, as you may make out in the film, is that I feel that it isn't tight enough. I think that I could actually fit my feet through the gap and try to explain this to my instructor.
'Don't worry', he replies!
No, hang on a minute. I am about to jump off a bloody bridge. I think my feet aren't completely secure and to say I am a tiny bit concerned by this is an understatement. My feet can fit through the padding on my ankles. This, and forgive me if I'm wrong here, could be a tiny bit dangerous when I'M DANGLING FROM A BRIDGE!
I try to bring this to his attention again.
'Relax, you're fine', is his second 'comforting' reply.
Luckily he attach's a second body harness. I start to double check the connection, but as I do a small part of my insane brain cautions my actions. What happens if I touch something by mistake? Say I unleash a crucial part without my instructor noticing. By the way, I have no idea why I am referring to this guy as an 'Instructor'. You don't need a lot of revision and guidance to jump off a bleeding bridge do you?
As I am helped like a dying hospice patient towards the bungee platform I asked how many other disabled jumpers have jumped at this very site. They tell me only 4 in 14 years and two of those were in wheelchairs. I didn't want to know if that was before or after their visit.
I look down.
I regret doing that!
The countdown starts and within 5 seconds I jump. The feeling can be compared to the first drop in a roller coaster ride but multiplied by a thousand and then some. For a split second you feel like a bird/ suicide victim. It's quiet. Very quiet. You don't really have time to think.
When the cord pulls me back there is no sudden yank, it's actually quite graceful. I applaud myself, I deserve some self respect. The only discomfort I feel in that the padding around my ankles is starting to pull, but within seconds a guy appears on another harness to wrench me back up to safety.
I have done it. I have achieved more than those losers sitting in a conference back in Cape Town chase piping their silly dream careers. Eat your heart out you various disability websites, ABLE2 is back and we return with balls!