SOUTH PADRE ISLAND (ValleyCentral) — A boat captain, Tim Lippoldt suffered an accident six years ago that left him paraplegic. He now has limited movement from the waist down.

The South Padre Island resident has captained boats most of his life, but that career had become just a memory — something that he couldn’t fathom doing again.

But now he’s captaining a ship again.

And his story has become a heartwarming tale of two friends helping other medically disabled people live life on the water — just like Lippoldt, himself.

“You start thinking I can’t, and I can’t, and you know, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this. So we named the boat the ICAN,” said Shane Wilson, founder of fishing’s future.

Wilson and Lippoldt started as strangers who had a casual encounter one day while on the street, where a small chat turned into a big dream and an even bigger reality.

Fishing’s future mission is to teach families to connect and spend time with each other while spreading their love for fishing, and with the ICAN initiative, they have taken that mission one step further

“And I was like, Tim, I need you. And he’s like, what do you mean, you need me, I’m in a wheelchair, and it’s like, no, come by my house, here’s my business card come by my house, I’ve got something that with your help, we can bring it to fruition,” Wilson said. “And he came by my house, and I laid up my vision that I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and his zest for life is infectious.”

Lippoldt now captains the ICAN, a boat rebuilt to help people with mobility needs return to the water, and he motivates others like him to realize what they are capable of doing on a boat.

Lippoldt is one of four paraplegic certified captains in the nation.

“My goal is to walk again, you know, and I might walk with crutches or braces, but I’m gonna walk again” Lippoldt said. “And it’s hard to keep that attitude. But, you know, we’re especially around Shane; it’s easy. Because he’s so motivated. He motivates me, you know? So I continue my therapy. I met Shane, and you know what? This is the best thing.”

The boat is designed to be wheelchair and scooter-accessible — and even medical bed accessible. The ICAN has been modified with heightened railings and an open floor plan, and what makes the ICAN so unique is the permanently mounted lift that sits directly behind the captain’s station. 

The mechanism’s purpose is to lower an individual into the water so they can again experience the freedom of playing in the water. 

“I want to see what other people their reactions are,” Lippoldt said. “I cry every time on the boat. I’m gonna with the parents; I’m crying like a little baby. Because you see there, their sons’ feet touch the water, and he’s just ecstatic. And the dads catch them and the moms, you know, taking pictures and it’s just, it’s just oh my god, it’s heart. Heart drenching actually, I mean, but it’s, it’s awesome.”