Thirty-four-year-old Nate Denofre doesn’t have much use for the term “disabled.” Born without legs below the knee – a result of amniotic band syndrome – Nate prefers to focus on what is possible for him to do, instead of what isn’t.
His latest undertaking embodies the odds-defying spirit that’s driven him to live a life of competitive sports, outdoor excursions and other adventures.
Faced with ever-increasing back pain and degenerating hip joints, Nate said he’s likely to soon spend a majority of his time using a wheelchair. Before that, Nate wanted to “do all the things” he soon won’t be able to do, including an ambitious hike through the Upper Peninsula’s wilderness.
Dubbed “Nate’s Last Stand,” he set off May 3, 2015, for what initially was to be a weeklong journey around Isle Royale National Park. One week wasn’t enough, and Nate soon expanded the geographic scope of his project.
Joined by his pit bull, Hugo, he surpassed the 100-day mark in late July, lugging a 14-foot canoe along the way. Nate said he intends to stay on the trail until he “can’t go anymore.” As temperatures drop and nearly 6 months of activity catch up with him, Nate is preparing to close the chapter on this year’s walkabout.
Nate, who has used Mary Free Bed’s rehabilitation and prosthetic services since he was nine months old, hopes to use his hike as a launching point for Courage Incorporated, a nonprofit Nate will be starting to help differently-abled kids and veterans get out in the wilderness.
“(Growing up,) I sometimes believed I was born as the unluckiest person. One day, I realized I was the luckiest person,” Nate said. “I want to show others what is possible.”