Vernon artist Adel Karame may not be as physically sound as he used to be, but his aspirations are sky high.
After a serious car accident about a year ago left him in near shambles, Karame returned to his childhood hobby of kite flying as a way to rehab his injuries. Now, he wants to set the world record for the highest homemade kite flown.
“I’ve been building kites since I was seven years old. It’s in my blood and my culture,” says Karame, who was born in Lebanon but has lived in Canada for the past 45 years.
In recent months Karame has been flying homemade kites at the Kalamalka Lookout and the DND soccer fields in Vernon and has reached a height of around 5,000 feet. He’ll need a bit more height than that to top the Guinness World Record of 16,009 feet, set by Robert Moore in Australia in 2014 – but Karame says he won’t quit until the record is his.
Karame has built enough kites to fly five of them when he attempts to break the world record. All he needs now is a plot of land big enough to make the attempt.
“I’m looking for a volunteer in Vernon to offer their land for the kite flying,” he said, asking any takers to call him at 250-309-1920.
Karame could barely move his neck and arms after the crash, and walking was an excruciating challenge – not to mention the concussion he suffered that did damage to his eyesight and cognition.
Rob McMillan, a physiotherapist at Easthill Physiotherapy and Acupuncture in Vernon, remembers the state Karame was in when he first came in for treatment a year ago.
“He was in pretty rough shape with a lot of neck problems, a lot of dizziness (and) a bad concussion to the point where, ironically, looking up just to be able to shave would make him too dizzy.”
McMillan began teaching Karame some home exercises to help with the limitations he was facing, and says the exercises he described triggered something in Karame’s memory.
“Some of the exercises that I gave him reminded him of looking up and pulling on a string” McMillan explains. From there, the idea to fly kites as a way of rehabilitating himself was planted, and Karame went to work building kites for the purpose. Not long after he started flying, the results started showing.
“Kite flying works your balance, it works the range of motion of your neck. It’s concentration (as far as concussions go), and a lot of arm and back work pulling in a few thousand feet of rope,” said McMillan.
Suffice to say, kite-flying isn’t a common prescription in clinical rehab practices.
“It’s been unique, that’s for sure,” McMillan laughed. “He comes alive when he’s got the kite going.”
Even now, Karame has trouble walking straight, moving his head from side to side or looking up without getting dizzy. And yet, he’s preparing to gaze up as high as 20,000 feet when he attempts to break the record. McMillan has come out to watch him fly on several occasions, and one outing stands out in particular.
“There was a big tourist bus that stopped, and everyone was watching because we had the thing up there so high, it was a little speck in the sky. He was talking to everyone, getting them to hold the rope.
“It was good to see him in his element.”
Dean Klein – a Vernon resident who has given Karame a space on his property to serve as his kite-building workshop – says the always ambitious Karame has expressed wishes to spread the benefits he’s found in kite-flying to others.
“He wants to help people, and I think one of his causes or missions is to help handicapped people fly kites,” said Klein, now a close friend of Karame. “He’s got a great heart.”
Kite-flying isn’t Karame’s only talent: he’s been an artist in Vernon for years, his past work includes paintings in various styles as well as eye-catching gear shifts fashioned out of various materials – wood, metal, fibreglass, and even billiard balls. Like kite-crafting, his artistic talents originated during his childhood in Lebanon.
Karame also knows a thing or two about vehicle restoration, having restored a vintage truck that he’s currently trying to sell. As soon as he’s able to sell it, he’ll be on a plane for a visit back to his roots in Lebanon.