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CEO & Founder of Outdoors Without Limits
Kirk knows what it's like to be knocked down by a disability. On November 27, 1992, Kirk was making his way back to his truck after a morning deer hunt. A falling tree struck the 6-foot-5-inch, 321-pound former college football player and hurled him into the air. When he regained consciousness, he was laying face up on the ground, his mouth filling with blood, with internal injuries and a shattered back. At 33, after months of hospitalization, operations, and rehab, he was a T-12 paraplegic with no movement from the waist down.
Kirk set his sights on returning to his job as a heavy equipment salesman; he had a family to support. And when hunting season arrived that fall, he was also ready to resume his life as an avid outdoorsman. He soon found out that it would take a lot of effort, help, and determination to continue doing what he'd always taken for granted before: enjoying the outdoors. "I can't take all the credit for my determination. I was blessed to have some great support from my family and friends. They did a lot of pushing," says Thomas.
After the accident and his first hunting season in a wheelchair, a new dream began to etch itself into Kirk's mind. A renewed sense of purpose and his love of the outdoors led Thomas to create Wheelin' Sportsman of America. Kirk started Wheelin' Sportsman of America in Sept. 1996. In October 2000 it became Wheelin' Sportsman NWTF and he was involved with that until July 2007. His organizations have held in excess of 1,000 events and hosted more than 10,000 disabled.
"The good Lord had a plan for me. He gave me a mission and I'm fortunate enough to be living it and expanding its reach, every day," says Thomas. "There's nothing I enjoy more than seeing people who never thought they would be able to get outside, actually participate in outdoor activities."