A new adventure for those with disabilities
by Staff Writer
In the triple-digit heat of a scorching summer day in Davidson, Valerie Adams found herself in the last place she ever thought she would be: the rear section of a speedboat, whipping around the expansive waters of Lake Norman.
Not more than 50 feet behind her, Adams’ son, 9-year-old Myles Robinson, also found himself in a very unlikely position: riding on the rushing wake atop a long plastic board, flanked by two sleek and speedy Jet Skis.
Myles, unable to walk since his premature birth, was waterskiing.
This is one of many new adventures that have happened this summer thanks to Carolinas Rehab Adaptive Sports and Adventures Program going on at the Lake Norman YMCA every Thursday afternoon and every first Saturday of the summer months.
“Amazing is putting it lightly,” said an emotional Adams after seeing her son on the water. “Seeing him out there just lets me know he is still a fighter.”
Myles was born one month premature weighing 1 pound, 11 ounces, his mother said. After fighting for his life for a month in intensive care, Myles was able to make it out and has been defying the odds ever since.
“We are so thankful for a program like this,” Adams said. “We are very fortunate to be a part of it.”
Myles is one of many handicapped people the rehab program has helped this summer. The program, which has been operating for more than decade, has a list of about 60 handicapped skiers from all over the state that the staff takes water-skiing every summer, 18 of which have joined the program this season.
Paul Stewart, who is stricken with paralysis from unknown causes, has been skiing in the program for five summers now, and said his experience with the program has been life changing.
“It’s full freedom out there on the board,” Stewart said. “At first, it was pretty hard, but I have progressed a lot.”
Stewart has been one of the many skiers to advance to the level where he no longer needs the plastic outriggers along side him to water ski.
His experience with waterskiing has led to him to try with other sports in the program, such as tennis, kayaking and basketball.
Jennifer Moore, one of three licensed recreational therapists working with the Adaptive Sports and Adventures Program, said the success of the program is due in large part to the YMCA of Lake Norman, which has provided the waterfront, the boat and the lifeguards necessary to run the program. However, the heart of the adaptive sports program is the staff, many of whom have volunteered with the program for eight years or more.
“We rely on the commitment of our volunteers,” Moore said. “It gives our skiers a sense of confidence to see the same people out here every time.”
Brian Bridgford, the program’s boat driver, is volunteering for his eighth summer, and said the feeling he gets from helping others has become an addiction.
“It’s sharing my love of the sport with someone else,” Bridgford said. “The sense of freedom that is created with the skier, coupled with the joy of the family is irresistible.”