SPorts, Arts, & Recreation of Chattanooga has several adaptive sports programs. One of there big events every year is adaptive water skiing. Debbie is in charge of running the SPARC adaptive water skiing event. We spoke a few weeks back. I was very excited to team up with her and participate in some activities with SPARC.
I really wanted to attend the water skiing event. Back when I was more mobile, I loved to go out on the lake. We would go tubing and kneeboarding every summer. Even back in high school (when I was most active) I never could get up on skis. Once those lake activities became too much I still enjoyed getting out on a Wave Runner. It was good physical therapy for me and it wasn't like I was out there trying to jump waves and act crazy.
During my conversation with Debbie I realized just how much I missed going out on the lake. I haven't been out on the lake in over two years. We didn't think riding a Wave Runner would be a good ideal the year I was pregnant with Annabelle and last year we were too busy with Annabelle to think about the lake. Even though I work at Island Cove Marina and see the lake and boats everyday, I put out of my mind going out on the lake. My physical abilities have declined to the point that it would be pretty hard to drag me on or off a boat or Wave Runner. The last thing I want is someone to hurt themselves helping me do something that I don't really have to do.
When Debbie said the water skiing clinic is always the third Saturday in July, I knew I wouldn't be making it out on the lake this year either. July 20 is the third Saturday this year and that is the Ms Wheelchair America pageant. I will be in Houston!!
I told Debbie I would be unable to make it because of the pageant. Her response was that I could come to the training session. Score!! I was going to the lake after all.
Yesterday was the training session and let me tell you, I had a BLAST!!! I was the first one to go out. I kept hearing the term guinea pig being said aloud. It was just a joke. Everyone knew what they were doing. (Well, I hoped they did!!) All joking aside, this is a very safe activity. I had so many different hands on me yesterday my husband should be jealous. (Again, just kidding.)
I was wheeled down a ramp in a manual wheelchair. With assistance, I floated out of the chair and over to the ski. Before I could be placed in the ski, I had to roll completely over in the water. The volunteers needed to see that I could get my face out of the water. Once I passed that test, I was placed in a basket that was attached to a ski. The ski was also attached to a out rigger. This would help to keep the ski steady in the water. There were probably 4-6 volunteers in the water helping place me in the ski. (See, Mom, I told you they would take care of me!)
All I had to do was sit still (and try not to freeze). There was a skier on either side of me. In the boat there were at least four more volunteers: a boat driver, a watcher, a line releaser, and a photographer. Behind us on either side there were the chasers: two wave runners with two volunteers on each. Everyone had a job. The watcher made sure I was doing ok. The two side skiers talked to me and were right there incase we went down. The line releaser would release the ski ropes if we went down. The chasers were there for extra support incase we went down and had to do a deep water start.
My first time out was AWESOME!! I forgot about being cold and just enjoyed the ride and the water in my face. What an unexplainable feeling to be out of my wheelchair and gliding across the water. During my time on the lake, LGMD 2B or a wheelchair never once entered my mind. I was just a girl skiing on the lake. I don't think you fully realize the impact of a day like yesterday until after the fact when you can sit back a say I did that! I really did that!! Something I thought was left behind in a different life, I was able to do again!!
That wonderful indescribable feeling was all thanks to strangers, people I have never met before. Volunteers, people who gave up their Saturday to give to others. I think that means just as much or more to me than being able to do something I thought I would never do again. Yesterday will play on repeat in my mind forever.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!! To Debbie and all the volunteers at SPARC who help make dreams come true.
SPARC is a non-profit organization funded by donations and grants. Please like their Facebook page and keep up with the wonderful things they do in Chattanooga.
Here are a few pictures from my iPhone. Once I get the photographers pictures I will post more.