Eau Claire (WQOW) - Log rolling made a comeback from Eau Claire's historic past, benefiting not only those who appreciate the sport but also athletes who participate in the Special Olympics.
If there's a will, there's a way. Determined to take a roll and destined to raise some hope, a distinguished log roller, J.R. Salzman, has been taking a leap on the log for 28 years. J.R. Salzman said, "The fact that there are still those of us still doing it, is I think pretty neat. It gives people a chance to glance into the past."
J.R. Salzman, an Iraq War veteran, lost his right arm and severed a few fingers on his left hand in Baghdad in 2006. Salzman said, "When I went to Iraq, I said, regardless of what happens to me, as long as I come home and I still have my legs, and I can still log roll, I'll be happy."
The U.S. Log Rolling Winter Championship rolled in at Half Moon Beach in Eau Claire with proceeds benefiting more than 1,000 local athletes with disabilities.
Karen Kraus, the director of development at Special Olympics in Eau Claire, said, "I think it's perfect to do it here because of our history and the logging industry, and it's important to our community, and it's just really good fun."
Concentrating on each other's next move, J.R. pulled through. "That's the fighting spirit of America, you never give up," Salzman said.
For J.R., winning the championship means more than taking home the prize. "You know for me, it's the satisfaction, well you know, winning and the fact that, honestly I just have fun. It shows the world what you can accomplish."
And, there's a lesson behind it. Salzman said, "I like to show people, you know, you maybe wounded and you may be injured but you can be down but you're not out. As long as you still have that fire in your heart and you try hard and you believe in what you can do, you'll be successful."
This is the first year the U.S. log rolling winter championship was held in Eau Claire. Over $1,000 was raised from the competitors' entry fees and benefited Special Olympics of Wisconsin.