Texas

Two friends made the waters of the bay accessible to people with disabilities

South Padre Island (Central Valley) – Boat captain Tim Lippoldt was involved in an accident six years ago that left him paralyzed in his lower limbs. Now he has limited movement below the waist.

The South Islander Padre spent most of his life in charge of the courts, but that career became just a memory—something he couldn’t imagine again.

But now he is the captain of the ship again.

And his story became a touching story about two friends helping other people with disabilities live on the water – just like Lippoldt himself.

“You start to think that I can’t, and I can’t, and you know, I can’t do this anymore. I can not do it. That’s why we named the boat ICAN,” said Shane Wilson, Founder of the Fishing Future.

Wilson and Lippoldt started out as strangers who had a chance encounter on the street one day, where a small conversation turned into a big dream and an even bigger reality.

The future mission of Fishing is to teach families to connect and spend time with each other while spreading their love for fishing, and thanks to the ICAN initiative, they have taken this mission one step further.

“And I thought, Tim, I need you. And he’s like you mean you need me I’m in a wheelchair and it’s like, no, come to my house, here’s my card, come to my house, I’ve got something with your help we can make it happen,” Wilson said. “And he came to my house and I laid out my vision that I want to do what I want, and his zest for life is contagious.”

Lippoldt is now the captain of ICAN, a boat rebuilt to help people with disabilities get back into the water, and he motivates others like him to realize what they are capable of in a boat.

Lippoldt is one of only four certified paraplegic captains in the country.

“You know, my goal is to walk again, and I can walk with crutches or braces, but I will walk again,” Lippoldt said. “And it’s hard to keep that attitude. But, you know, we especially love Shane; it’s simple. Because he is so motivated. He motivates me, you know? So I continue therapy. I met Shane and you know what? It’s the best.”

The boat is designed for wheelchairs and scooters and even medical beds. ICAN has been modified with raised railings and an open floor plan, and what makes ICAN so unique is the permanently installed elevator that sits right behind the captain’s seat.

The purpose of the mechanism is to lower a person into the water so that he can again feel the freedom of playing in the water.

“I want to see how other people react,” Lippoldt said. “I cry every time on the boat. I’m going with my parents; I cry like a small child. Because you see there, their sons feet are touching the water, and he is just delighted. And dads catch them, and moms, you know, take pictures, and it’s simple, it’s simple, oh my god, this heart. I mean, it’s really heartbreaking, but it’s, it’s amazing.”

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