Jamie Turko

Woman doesn’t let quadriplegia prevent her from swimming with the salmon

Last week Jo-Ann Dumont was carried from her wheelchair onto a bus and then onto a raft to snorkel with the salmon.

Jamie Turko, owner of Destiny River Adventures Rafting Centre, has taken hundreds of people down the Campbell River to snorkel with the salmon, including a few amputees and a paraplegic, but Dumont was his first person with quadriplegia.

“We usually try to push our limits a little bit, but snorkelling in the river I hadn’t done yet,” Dumont said. “It was an incredible experience and it was only because of [Turko’s] passion for disabled people and that everybody should have a great experience that I got to go.”

Dumont was bundled into a wet suit. Because of her poor circulation she wore extra wool and fleece layers as well as a toque to ensure she stayed warm.

Once they were in the water, Turko held Dumont the whole time, ensuring that if she got into trouble he would be there to help.

“Once she did get a chance to really relax and to trust me, she saw an amazing amount of salmon,” Turko said.

Dumont and her husband were in Campbell River on holidays from Airdrie, Alta., which is just north of Calgary.

“I just think that Campbell River has got so much to offer,” she said. “This truly was a lifetime experience for us.”

Turko doesn’t have a wheelchair accessible bus, hence why he carried Dumont onto the bus for her trip. He said this experience has inspired him to look into a more wheelchair accessible vehicle.