Ray belongs to SEAL, a local support group for amputees and their families. Ray had his leg amputated 10 years ago because of a blood clot. Several weeks ago he told me they had an outing planned at a lake and if I wanted to go I should mark it on my calendar. I asked what they were going to do and he said "water ski." My reaction was probably a simple "Huh?". The date was last Saturday.
There is a group in Alabama called Adaptive Aquatics.They go all over the country with lots of equipment to share their love of water sports with those who otherwise would not be able to participate.
There is also a local group of ski enthusiasts, The Columbus Aqua Ski Club, that provides assistance.
Another group, CAST Ministries, put this all together.
I could not possibly say enough good things about all of these groups and the results from their efforts. The local ABC/Fox news showed up and for some reason, the guy decided to focus on Ray for the story. I've looked online for a video clip, but I haven't found one. Before going there, I couldn't stop wondering how this was going to work. I used to water ski when I was younger and I know you use your legs a lot :)
They had the use of a private lake, the lake that the ski club uses, which was great because that meant they were the only boat on the lake. That takes away all of the need to watch out for other boats who would be unaware of the issues being dealt with.
Here is the news man Jason setting Ray up for his interview.
Ray read to get into the water.
There are different situations among the amputees. Some can keep their prosthetics on, some can't. Some have one prosthetic, some have two. There wasn't anyone there with two prosthetics who could not leave them on, but in that situation, they have what they call a sit ski. Ray has an electronic one, so he had to take his off and try to ski on one ski. The ski club has a person on each side and they basically lift them up. If the skier is able to get their balance, the ski club guys drift off and the skier skis solo. If they are unable to get their balance, the ski club guys stay with them. That would be hard work, but they were happy to do it, and they did it all day long to make sure everyone got a couple of turns.
Here is a link to a copyrighted picture of Ray taken by the photographer of the Adaptive Aquatics group.
Ray from the boat.
And a link to all of the pictures of the day.
After they all had their turn on the skis, then they took turns on the sit ski. It's not as easy as it sounds because it is still a ski, and you still have to balance yourself, but they all had fun with that after the exertion required for their first rounds.
One of the neatest things about the day was being in a group of people where prosthetics and missing limbs are the norm. Sure, family and friends are supportive of Ray and have adjusted to the difference, but here it wasn't different. That was a big deal for me so I can't imagine how it was for the amputees.