Erin Katz landed a bullseye on her backyard target board (Submitted photo)

Vancouver Island stroke survivor uses axe throwing for relief and recovery during COVID-19 pandemic

Erin Katz spent eight weeks in hospital recovering from multiple strokes

Erin Katz, a single mother of three from Ladysmith is using backyard axe throwing as a tool in her recovery after suffering multiple strokes in February.

“It was awful. You just wake up one morning and your life is completely changed,” Katz said.

Katz spent eight weeks in hospital, and recently returned home to Ladysmith on April 19. During her eight weeks, Katz relearned how to walk with a cane, and how to walk up stairs. Her left side was partially immobilized by the stroke.

“My arm isn’t really responding, but my leg is doing so much better. I can walk with a cane, and I can do 13 stairs now,” she said.

Prior to her stroke, Katz had started axe throwing at Axe & Grind axe throwing club in Nanaimo. She fell in love with the sport, and hoped to make it a regular activity. Axe & Grind clubs in Nanaimo and Victoria have been closed due to COVID-19, however they are selling backyard target boards for anyone who wants to continue the sport at home.

“Coming home and not having much activity to come home to, because I’m so limited, and self-isolating, I needed something fun to do,” Katz said. “It makes me feel fierce. I can still do cool stuff, even though my body isn’t cooperating and the world is shut down.”

Danny Hamilton, owner of Axe & Grind said that people with disabilities and mobility issues have participated in axe throwing at Axe & Grind in the past. Hamilton came to set up the target board in Katz’s backyard, and gave her instructions on how to throw safely.

“We can teach anyone to throw an axe,” Hamilton said. “But this was a pretty special case.”

Hamilton participates in the online World Axe Throwing League, and competes against axe throwers from around the world in games of axe throwing. He was moved by Katz’s story, and has offered to train Katz in the sport.

“She can call on me anytime. We can do video chats, and I can coach her by video,” Hamilton said.

Because her left arm is immobilized, Katz can only throw one handed axes at this time. She hopes to work her way back to throwing two-handed axes in the future.

Katz’s children now think they have the coolest mother in the world. Her children Ellery, 11, and Emmy, 8, participate, however her youngest Luke, 3 is not allowed to go anywhere near the axes until he’s old enough participate safely.

“It’s so huge right now. It’s the only thing I look forward to every day,” Katz said.

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