These Water Skiers Didn't Take the Easy Way out; They Overcome Their Handicaps to Ski on Victory Lake

By Deboer, Jeanine | The Florida Times Union, November 1, 2008 | Go to article overview
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These Water Skiers Didn't Take the Easy Way out; They Overcome Their Handicaps to Ski on Victory Lake


Deboer, Jeanine, The Florida Times Union


Byline: JEANINE DEBOER

The still waters of Victory Lake on the Westside were the backdrop on a recent Saturday for 22 people who did something that most people - including themselves - thought they would never do.

From amputees to quadriplegics and from age 10 to adult, the group members water-skied, some for the first time in years and many for the first time ever, during a free water ski clinic provided by UCanSki2 and hosted by Brooks Rehabilitation.

Steve Kenny, for example, had not water-skied since an injury left him in a wheelchair 15 years ago.

"It was totally awesome," he said as volunteers rolled him back onto dry land.

Kenny said he didn't even realize when the other skiers let him go. "It was the closest rush to skydiving," he said.

Mandarin-area resident Ashton Sumner, 10, was the youngest to ski at the event. He was paralyzed in a car accident about four years ago and has been involved with Brooks Rehabilitation for a little more than a year.

His mother, Lisa Abarno, said that at first he didn't want to go.

"Try everything at least once, I tell him," she said. Like most moms, Abarno said she doesn't want her son to stay inside and play video games every day.

Alice Krauss, manager of Brooks Rehabilitation Adaptive Sports and Recreation program, said Brooks Rehabilitation works to improve the physical, social and emotional well-being of individuals with disabilities.

"Providing adaptive sports opportunities is a key element of improving the quality of life for the disabled members of the greater Jacksonville area," she said.

To host the event, Brooks Rehabilitation partnered with Ann O'Brine-Satterfield, winner of six national and two world championships in adaptive water-skiing.

O'Brine-Satterfield founded UCanSki2, a USAWaterSki-affiliated ski club dedicated to providing public awareness and outreach opportunities for the disabled.

Her organization provides free water-ski clinics for people with disabilities.

"Come on, you're a pro!" she encouraged from her own wheelchair on the dock.

The skiers were first moved from their wheelchairs into an aquatic wheelchair on which they were rolled into the water while they waited for the boat to pick them up. They were given a harness similar to the ones double-skiers use to hold each other up during tricks, and then placed in a seat-like device attached to a wide ski.

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