It’s with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) member and PVA Publications Editor-In-Chief Tom Fjerstad. Tom lost his more than yearlong battle with leukemia and passed away surrounded by his family at home in Phoenix on Dec. 9, 2022. A Navy veteran, he was 63. Tom was a staunch believer in SPORTS ’N SPOKES’ (S’NS) ability to help people with disabilities get active. This is his final column and is dedicated to his belief and effort to see S’NS return to print. His friendship and leadership will be greatly missed.
To read more about Tom
The first issue of SPORTS ’N SPOKES (S’NS) rolled off the press in May 1975. It was the creation of late PN editor Cliff Crase and his wife, Nancy Crase. Prior to S’NS, there was no publication dedicated to wheelchair sports.
Cliff had a sports column in Paraplegia News (PN), the official publication of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). His space in that publication was limited and it made it impossible to cover the greatly expanding world of wheelchair sports. This was one of the motivating factors in the Crases’ decision to create S’NS. In that first issue, the Crases articulated why they thought this new publication was so desperately needed.
“Our intentions with SPORTS ’N SPOKES magazine are many fold. The major ones are for the magazine to be used for educational purposes, and as a reference to answer those puzzling questions that confront a person who wants to be active but can’t find a starting point.
“It should keep the sports enthusiast up to date on all the latest rules, records and general information about sports and recreation. The magazine will not be a spokesman for any one particular organization, but will serve to approach the general public and inform them, in a proper way, that wheelchair athletes do take their events very seriously and train extremely hard to reach their present goals.
“An athlete just doesn’t go out into the sports world and press 500 pounds, race 25 miles, swim any stroke in excellent times, or shoot archery on any level. You don’t grab five people in five wheelchairs and crash around the basketball court for 40 minutes and expect to make a national tourney. The public should be aware that these successful athletes practice, are dedicated and know how to sacrifice to become champions in their events. The public wants to know this but never really has been informed or exposed to the real world of wheelchair sports.
“An active sport or recreation is great for the body, both physically and psychologically, and is definitely a part of healthy living. You can have fun and games in sports and recreation, or you can be serious and travel the exciting path of success of a dedicated athlete. The sport is no novelty when it comes to training to be the best, be selected on the U.S. wheelchair team, or become a national champ. It is work, but it’s worth it.
“Our goal is to enlighten the public on just what competitive wheelchair sports is, to assist the experienced, and novice athlete, and hopefully, give wheelchair sports the recognition it has earned and deserves.”
The PVA Publications staff had discussions about the future of the print version of S’NS several years ago. Because its readers skewed younger and consumed much of their information on portable devices, the decision was made to cease printing with the January 2021 issue and to offer only a digital version of the magazine.
At the same time, the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) was happening. In the early days of COVID-19, everyone was on edge and some of the protocols, in hindsight, turned out to be unnecessary.
One of the worries was surface transmission, which caused medical facilities to remove communal print materials from their waiting areas. PVA Publications staff always attends PVA’s Healthcare Summit + Expo and speaks with health care providers about PN and S’NS. A big takeaway every year is their belief that S’NS is their best toolto show the newly injured their post-injury possibilities.
I personally experienced this during my rehab in 1989, when a recreational therapist left a copy of S’NS in my hospital room. I can’t tell you how happy I am with the decision to return to print.
I’m sorry, but writing down a website and leaving it with a patient is just not the same as a physical print magazine left in your room that you’ll eventually pick up and flip through.
Welcome back to print, S’NS.