Teacher reflects on injury as disability pride month begins

Rick Mangan, better known as “Maggott,” has been skydiving since 1977. According to Mangan, he is “a skydiver, a national champion, FAA licensed parachute rigger, skydiving instructor, and pilot,” with many years of experience. He is by no means an amateur.

Mangan is an American Sign Language (ASL) instructor at Bellevue College. After summer quarter, Mangan decided to fulfill a personal dream: make the trek to Couch Freaks Boogie Dollar Daze, an annual event where skydivers from all over the world travel to enjoy some jumps and free beer in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Mangan decided to fly his own plane to Dollar Daze. On his way there, he stopped to skydive in Oregon at another skydiving event. Mangan made a couple of jumps with ease but on his final jump, he ran into, or jumped into, some trouble.

Attempting to land, Mangan realized that he was coming in too fast and decided that he’d have to slide into the landing on his bottom. “Just as I decided to push both feet out in front of me, initiating the rump-slide, POP! Something grabbed my left foot, and I felt my ankle turn,” said Mangan.

Mangan let himself fall and roll. When he checked the extent of his injuries, “my foot was laid over flat on the ground, my toes pointed left but my knee was pointed up!” said Mangan.

Mangan had broken his fibula and dislocated his ankle.

Today, Mangan is in a leg brace and gets around in a wheelchair. In approximately six weeks, the screws in his ankle will be removed.

Rick Mangan had two screws inserted into his ankle, during surgery; after a skydiving accident.
Rick Mangan had two screws inserted into his ankle, during surgery; after a skydiving accident.

Mangan’s injury comes at an interesting time. October is Disability Pride Month on campus, and Mangan finds himself temporarily disabled.

As an ASL instructor, Mangan has worked closely with and been active in the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Since his accident, however, Mangan has a new perspective on what it is like to be disabled on campus.

“The access at our college is not as easy as I thought. It’s accessible with a great deal of difficulty,” said Mangan.

Mangan has also noticed a few issues around campus that have made access difficult. The issues vary from able-bodied people parking in disabled parking spots to broken automatic doors.

“The main thing we can do is communicate. They can’t fix it if we don’t tell them what’s wrong,” said Mangan, talking about how the campus can be made more accessible.

Since his accident, Mangan has become more grateful. “Stop and think about all the things we do with ease. There’s somebody out there that struggles to do the same thing,” said Mangan. “I have a real respect for people that are wheelchair bound.”

Despite his accident, Mangan says he hopes to be back in the air by the end of spring and make it to Dollar Daze someday.

Throughout October, BC will hold events to celebrate Disability Pride month. For more information, contact the Disability Resource Center or read more about Disability Pride Month in this issue.