Paralyzed athletes overcome obstacles in St. Paul

ST. PAUL — Several paralyzed athletes have been given the opportunity to leave their wheelchairs behind at Twin Cities Trapeze Center.

Tresa Honaker, Dwayne Scheuneman and Angelique Lele were able to feel the sensation of swinging in a trapeze for the first time since their spinal cord injuries.

Elizabeth Skwiot owns Aerialates, an aerial Pilates company. She invited Honaker to try aerial work for the first time since she was injured in a January 2012 accident. Scheuneman and Lele also joined in on the experiment.

"I love aerial work, I love it, so to see people hurt by it and come back to it," said Skwiot of aerial trapeze skills. "I think in some ways you could see the chair or paralysis as an obstacle, but you could also see it as an opportunity because anytime you have a limitation creatively it forces you in some ways to be more creative, so I am excited to see what we can do."

Skwiot and the owners of Twin Cities Trapeze Center helped the wheelchair-bound athletes swing on trapezes and spin from ropes suspended in the air.


Scheuneman owns a Florida dance company and was visiting Minnesota to teach adaptive dance classes. He was injured in a 1995 driving accident that caused him to be paralyzed from the chest down.

Lele was paralyzed in a static trapeze fall in June 2012.

"This is an opportunity that is to me — amazing," she said. "I still love the sport. It gave me so much and I think it will continue to give me so much."

All three of the paralyzed athletes were amazed to experience abilities they thought they had lost forever.

"You live your life in motion and then all of the sudden part of your body is unplugged, so it's a life changer. People reaching out allowing me to feel those things again, that freedom of mobility, it's huge," said Honaker.

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