Written by by Carmel McKenna, CNN
Marty Lynch, a coach for a U.S. men’s volleyball team, lost his leg in a devastating motorcycle accident in April 2014 — the result of the horseback riding party he was on with some friends at the time.
Lynch was awarded $850,000 by the USDA as a result of the accident. But now the 40-year-old, a former University of Connecticut student and athlete who helped the country win a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics, is using the money to build a farm.
The farm, located in Wallington, New Jersey, is called ” The Lou” and it will be an opportunity for Lynch and his family to continue to grow and develop their dreams.
Marty Lynch on the golf course
Speaking to CNN, Lynch explained how he still makes adjustments to his everyday life now that he has lost his right leg.
“I have to come back to my spot. People get in the door, the chair is right there, but if you’re walking, you don’t have the mobility,” he said.
“I still have to do everything for myself,” he explained. “When I use a wheelchair, I have to lift the chair up three inches, wait for it to go up, do a double step, put it down again, put the chair back, get back in the chair, stand up, lift it, put it down, wait for the chair to go up a bit more, lift it, stand up. Every time I move one inch, I have to do that twice.”
‘I don’t do well with uncertainty’
Yet despite the difficulties, Lynch said he believes the accident hasn’t affected his love of the sport.
“Part of my injury doesn’t change the fact that I love the sport so much and want to help other people do it,” he said. “It’s almost the same if you didn’t have a disability. I don’t do well with uncertainty.”
Marty Lynch in London in 2004. Credit: Food and drink: Enrica Cucina, profilia e confini/Getty Images
However, for now, Lynch is focusing on helping his family find joy in farming. Lynch, whose father is a cattle farmer, says that while he missed seeing his father this year, the bond between father and son is back.
“Father and son are back to where they were. I didn’t see him for a couple of years, and then he shows up one day and I go over and there’s him and I go, ‘Hi, Daddy,’ He went out to look for me and we came back and we had dinner and had a great time,” he said.
Lynch’s vision for the farm is simple. He wants a place that will inspire people to find their own passion for agriculture. He envisions a garden, a cow barn, a vegetable garden, a greenhouse and horse stables — all centred around family, craft and nutrition.
Marty Lynch off the horse in this photo. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo
“We would like to provide people with a space that connects nature with human life. Farm animals are a part of their lives. They’re like part of them, and they’ll help teach children how to feed them. I want to teach them how to build a home and how to solve problems and let them become self-sufficient,” he explained.
Lynch’s plans are the perfect example of what is known as “tog-a-lutra,” or healing through technology. In 2004, his parents’ farm was damaged by flood waters. Lynch and his mother made a third of a mill to restore the wood floors and used an industrial sized treadmill to help them to walk in the sand.
Around ten years later, Lynch’s college roommate, Mark Roth, proposed a similar solution: a puzzle made out of bicycles.
Marty Lynch on the golf course. Credit: Food and drink: The Lou Farm
Lynch, who used to work in construction, designed the bike-coloring puzzle and has since sold thousands of them in West Africa, the UK and Japan.
Roth, who also went to Wallington, told CNN that he plans to use some of the money to help Lynch with the farming project.
He’s not the only one. Lynch’s hero, modern surfing legend Marie Curie, has donated several funds to the project.