'I can do anything' - Paraclimber uses his experience to help others
A daunting rock face might scare off some people, but for local paraclimber Ronnie Dickson, it's what shaped his new reality after a leg amputation 12 years ago.
Dickson was diagnosed with Trevor's Disease as a child, which caused a growth plate deficiency in his left knee and ankle.
"And got to the point where it was holding me back from things I wanted to do, and I decided to have it amputated at age 17," Dickson said.
Dickson was at a doctor's appointment when he discovered adaptive climbing after reading about a competition in a magazine.
"At the time, climbing was this thing that gave me my freedom back and gave me this new found sense of self-confidence. That I can tackle the world using this as my platform," he said.
Dickson also switched majors in college. Originally an English major, he said he just didn't see the end game in that.
"I was getting together with a lot of non-profit organizations that were teaching me how to run again, that were giving me my freedom back," Dickson said.
So he changed majors.
"I went to school to be a prosthetist, so to make prosthetic legs for people," Dickson said. "You know, I help people regain their mobility. I help people achieve their goals no matter what they may be."
Dickson also uses his passion to help others because of the initial liberating feeling.
"You know that freedom of just getting up," Dickson said. "Everybody needs to learn how their own body climbs. So it didn't matter I was missing one leg. I was going to have to figure out how it worked for me."
But it's more than just a hobby for Dickson. He has competed on an international level including a silver medal at the 2014 World Championships in Spain. When he was asked about his biggest accomplishments, he didn't name any accolades.
"It makes me feel really good inside. I'm taking something that I love and I'm sharing it with someone else," Dickson said.
He takes a sport that most people find difficult and shows others it's possible.
"You know, I think for a lot of us our biggest fear is failure and coming up short," Dickson said. "It kind of shows them you know wow, even though I have different physical challenges, this is something that I can do. If I can do this, then I can do anything."
Dickson just moved to Chattanooga in February, and he's excited to make an impact in the local community.
He holds events for adaptive climbing on the third Thursday of every month at High Point Climbing in downtown Chattanooga.
If you want to get in touch with Dickson visit Prosthetic and Orthodontics Associates of Tennessee.