St Luke's Rehabilitation Institute holds a Ski Fest every year allowing people with various disabilities to go water skiing or tubing. Employees and interns from St Luke's and a bunch of friends at Clear Lake volunteer their time, boats, and jet skis to make for two days of water fun. I hung out there all day yesterday and took a ton of photos. Everyone was having a blast.
The volunteers have developed an excellent system. One or two jet skis, each carrying a "jumper", follow just behind the participant as they're being pulled by the boat. If the participant can swim then only one jet ski follows. Two follow if they can't swim. Jumpers have one responsibility and that's to get to the participant as quickly as possible and keep them upright in the water. Whether or not the participant has the hand and arm strength to hang onto the pull rope, the boat has a quick release to cut the participant loose in case of trouble. The boat drivers and crew have years of experience and drive according to the participant's physical ability and level of comfort. I noticed that once a new participant got comfortable they asked to step it up a notch. Some things remain universal.
I was talking with Joel, the guy on the slalom wearing a big smile in the photo above. He also plays sled hockey, which piqued my interest since I'm a former C-league recreation league hockey player.
"Yeah, come on out this fall. We can put you in a sled. It's a lot of fun."
He also plays wheelchair rugby and described the wheelchairs as "Mad Max like with bumpers 'n' stuff". Well, that certainly sounds like fun.