By Rachel Jeppsen ('05), Editorial Intern
Kimberly E. Yeoman ('06) of Dayton, Nev., gets around in style. The flashy pink design of her wheelchair complements her easy smile and bright eyes. Despite the limitations spina bifida has created for her, Yeoman finds ways to be active. She plays wheelchair rugby, basketball, and tennis and goes mono-skiing.
Her latest adventure was visiting a bear den. In her integrative biology class at the beginning of the winter semester, Yeoman listened to integrative biology professor Hal L. Black talk about his black-bear research. Black invited the entire class to see the bears in an actual bear den during a research trip to the Book Cliffs.
"It sounded really cool," Yeoman says. "But I didn't think I was going to be able to go because bear caves generally aren't very accessible." However, Black assured her, "If you want to go, we're going to make it happen."
Black called upon five BYU football players and a search and rescue team to assist her to the bear den. Yeoman, who normally hates to be carried, sat on a search and rescue sled and allowed the football players to take her over snowy and rugged terrain to the bear den. In addition to the football players and search and rescue team, about 10 others made sure she was safe and comfortable. "What overwhelmed me," Yeoman says, "was that there were so many people willing to help, and they were specifically there to help me."
About 75 yards from the den entrance, a tranquilized yearling cub was brought to Yeoman. As she held the snoring bear, Yeoman's interest in the subject was further piqued. "I have a greater interest in bears, and not as much of a fear," she says.
At the beginning of her BYU experience, Yeoman was timid about allowing people to help her, but she has gradually altered her views. "If I accept help, it's not making me any less independent. It's getting to experience something I couldn't otherwise and letting others have that experience too."