When 13,000 volts coursed through Larry Sanford's body during a pipeline drilling project gone terribly wrong, he awoke to find himself missing an arm, all of the muscles in his chest and various other body parts.
Brett Harlan's bones have betrayed him since birth.
Apart from the interesting coincidence that both these events occurred in Louisiana, these men share another link that extends beyond the often blurry bounds of disability.
Now, more than a thousand miles away, they're connected by a very Colorado organization called Outdoor Buddies and a glowing passion for all the activities it embraces.
On a frigid morning last week suitable for free-roaming polar bears, Sanford and Harlan shared a goose blind west of Windsor, one of those remarkable outings for which the organization is known.
Conceived in 1984 by the late Sid Sellers, a hunter safety instructor, and Sam Andrews of Craig Hospital, the organization has evolved as the national model for outdoor participation by the mobility disabled.
The group presently involves some 275 handicapped hunters and fishermen, many of them armed service veterans, in a program that captivates all who touch it.
Julie Swezey, who operates Indian Brook Kennels in Wellington, remembers her reaction when her husband volunteered to help with an Outdoor Buddies antelope hunt.
"I knew immediately I wanted to do something with the organization," said Swezey, now a board member.
Sanford began years ago as a participant and now acts as a facilitator.
"It's amazing what people can do when they're given the opportunity, when they can overcome their inhibitions," said Sanford, who five years ago joined the board.
Sanford, one of those irrepressible individuals who presumably might smile through a shark attack, now serves as a hunt organizer, a walking, or hobbling, inspiration to everyone he meets.
"The accident literally cost me an arm and a leg - or at least part of my foot," he joked while bagging a limit of geese, using a modified stock that helps make him a deadeye with one hand.
Outdoor participation, Sanford said, is the ultimate in freedom and a way to regain a measure of dignity that may have been stolen by disability.
"When someone bags an elk, he feels a sense of providing for his family," Sanford, 45, describes the sense of empowerment. "Every time you take a package of meat from the freezer, you feel you're helping your family."
Outdoor Buddies also assists in various small game hunts, as well as fishing on both lakes and streams. Elk hunting remains a popular part of the program, with some 50 outings last season on private property and an approximate 80 percent success rate.
"Born for the outdoors," Harlan, 48, has bagged elk in two of the past three years. He says Outdoor Buddies has "made all the difference" in a difficult life whose benchmarks include losing a leg at age 5 and a bone collapse in the other 10 years ago. A series of spinal fusions compounded his need for assistance. He'll have yet another surgery in two weeks.
Asked what Outdoor Buddies means to him, Harlan offered a direct answer: "My life, in all honesty."
When a lone goose answered Sanford's call and flew toward the decoys, Harlan quickly hoisted his gun and dropped it with a single shot.
For a moment, that troubled life was very good again.
Charlie Meyers can be reached at 303-954-1069 or email@example.com.