Water Ski Champions

Through ASAP, three remarkable, motivated people participated and placed in the 2013 World Disabled Water Ski Championships held in Italy last year.

The Adaptive Sports and Adventures Program (ASAP) at Carolinas Rehabilitation in Charlotte, NC, is a community-based program with a global reach. The program provides opportunities for people who have physical limitations to become active again by participating in leisure and sports activities. With support from fundraising and grants, therapists help individuals build strength and make adaptations, allowing them to engage and compete in sports such as water skiing, snow skiing, rugby, tennis, cycling and golf.

As a result of their work with ASAP, three athletes were selected to compete in the World Disabled Water Ski Championships in Milan, Italy, this September. Megan McCauley, Robbie Parks and Eli Hager were among the13 athletes representing Team USA, competing in all divisions: slalom, trick and jump. All three have disabilities that include amputations or paralysis.

Team USA won a gold medal for the third year in a row, with Eli winning bronze in the Seated Trick event. “Eli learned to ski when he was four years old. I’ve worked with him and watched him grow over the last 11 years. He has a natural ability in the water,” said Jennifer Moore, a recreation therapist who helped the athletes develop their skills. Robbie’s event is Seated Jump, where he finished sixth in the rankings. Robbie has pursued certification as an adaptive water skiing instructor.

Megan placed fourth in Seated Jump, her favorite event. It was Robbie who introduced her to waterskiing. “ASAP is a kick-start program,” Megan said. “It helped us become competitive water-skiers. Getting on the lake is amazing and liberating.”

Participants who receive support from ASAP are asked to give back to others. This often means being a peer mentor. While visiting a patient in the hospital, you can often hear one of them say, “I was where you are not long ago, and look what I’m doing now.”

A Chance Encounter: Mayian’s Story

Eight-year-old Mayian Simaton came to ASAP through an amazing set of circumstances.

Born in Kenya, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) as an infant. By chance, in August 2012, Amy Sturkey, a physical therapist from Charlotte, North Carolina, met Mayian and his mother, Catherine, while on an African safari.

Sturkey told them about ASAP’s sports-based therapies for children. In July, Mayian and Catherine traveled to Charlotte, where Recreation Therapist Jennifer Moore introduced him to adaptive water skiing, cycling and tennis.

“It was an incredible opportunity for me and the chance of a lifetime for him,” said Moore. “They were excited about the possibilities, but didn’t realize how endless they are.”

ASAP was able to give Mayian a hand cycle to take home to Kenya, where his mother hopes to spread the word about what’s possible for children with CP.

To learn more about ASAP, call 704-355-1062.