Wake The World Adaptive provides waterskiing opportunity for differently-abled people

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 4:01 PM EDT
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SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Crazy Horse Marina Tuesday hosted the second day of an adaptive waterskiing event for people in the Roanoke Valley with disabilities.

“Two years ago before I did this, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible,” says participant Spencer Atkinson.

“I have Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” he explains. “That’s a condition where muscles deteriorate over time because they don’t have dystrophin, which is a building block of muscles. Over time, things get weaker, things get harder to do.”

This has kept Spencer watching from the sidelines.

“I try to look at it in a positive way in getting enjoyment out of watching people enjoy themselves, but it still is hard to not be able to do things that I want to,” he says.

Enter Wake the World Adaptive, a program with a unique mission.

“We’re helping people with disabilities of all ages and different disabilities to have a chance to try waterskiing,” explains coordinator Scot Mills. “Several people with disabilities can’t stand or can’t stand well, so they can’t waterski or wakeboard on their own. With the adaptive equipment and side skiers, we help make that possible and hopefully put a smile on their face.”

From a smile to an indescribable sensation.

“I feel free. I kind of forget about my disability for a minute,” describes Atkinson. “It’s just a completely freeing experience being on the water, I love the water. I used to be out on the boat when I was a kid, so, just kind of bringing back some memories.”

“It feels amazing, and you actually tear up talking to some of these guys and gals afterwards, because they get emotional,” Mills adds.

“Everybody has different abilities, but everybody is able to go out and help everybody enjoy themselves and do it to the best of their abilities,” Atkinson notes.

This is the fourth year Wake the World Adaptive has held this event at Crazy Horse Marina. More than a dozen people got the opportunity to ski over the last two days.

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