I'd venture to guess that not one of us can imagine waking up this morning, going about our normal day and suddenly, without any warning, becoming paralyzed from the chest down for the rest of our lives before dinner. That's not even mentioning the agonizing physical pain and near-death sickness engendered by chemotherapy and physiotherapy that would tax a Navy Seal.
Tred has come through it all with grace and determination. He still hunts. He still fishes. He still tapes his TV show - all, albeit - with prodigious help from his wife Anni Vail Barta, his TV crew and his many friends. Tred has a special harness that allows him to still ride his horse. Another special block and tackle system lets diminutive Anni lift Tred up onto his horse where he has a special harness that holds him upright, allowing him to still ride. Recently, he taped a TV segment in a rodeo ring where they let a steer out of a stall and Tred chased it down, lassoed it, tied it off to the pommel of his saddle and brought it down. No, he didn't hop off and hog-tie it.
Tred and his eternally patient wife - both former competitive skiers - live on a mountainside ranch in Vail, Colorado where they still fly down the mountain in winter; Tred on a special bicycle-style skiing contraption designed for the physically challenged. He drives his very unique F150 around town and all in all is handling his trials with incredible grace and equanimity. One concession he has made however is that he needs to take a nap most afternoons.
Tred still shoots his longbow from his wheelchair. He recently went fishing in Panama and Guatemala where he caught both big and small billfish and tuna - again with the help of friends. Casa Vieja Lodge recently named Tred its Fleet Captain and he will be conducting fishing schools there in the future.
In the lemonade from lemons department, Tred is determined to show the world via his public persona, in Sport Fishing magazine, his public appearances and on his TV show, The Best and Worst of Tred Barta, that such a catastrophic physical challenge, no matter how big or small, absolutely does not mean that your life and the things you love doing come to an end. Certainly it takes more time and patience and the love and support of many friends. But you can go on. He is using every means at hand as a bully pulpit to get his point across. And he has a better attitude about it all than when he was hale and hearty.
Recently, at the Barta Boys and Girls Club Billfish Tournament in Beaufort, North Carolina, a woman whose family had participated in the event for several years summed it up quite well. "Tred used to tell anyone and everyone how incredibly tough and macho he was. It turns out that he's much tougher and more macho than any of us - even Tred himself knew!" -Dean Travis Clarke