Adapting Water Recreation

Published 5:10 pm Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Evan Majewski spends most of his summer on Lay Lake being pulled behind a boat, but his style is a little different from most skiers’ on the lake. Evan’s watersport of choice is actually “sit-skiing,” at Adaptive Aquatics, a facility in Wilsonville catered toward skiers with physical disabilities.

“Fast is my first, middle and last name,” the 12-year-old said.

Adaptive Aquatics celebrated its ribbon-cutting Tuesday June 8 with a tour of the completely wheelchair-accessible facilities, which feature multiple docks, a boat house, a pavilion, and wheelchair-accessible showers and restrooms.

“I had a vision 10 years ago to make it easier for people because I knew how it was for me,” said Executive Director Joe Ray, who lost the use of his legs in a car accident when he was a teenager.

The program ran out of Ray’s backyard for several years, but he always dreamed of a facility that would be bigger, more accessible and more centrally-located.

Currently, Adaptive Aquatics serves skiers of all ages and with a range of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, post-polio, acquired brain injuries, amputations and visual impairments.

Many injured war veterans also enjoy skiing at Adaptive Aquatics. Ray said of the thousands of soldiers injured every year, the majority are amputees, and they are still able to utilize Adaptive Aquatics, which also offers tubing, fishing and kayaking.

“Coming out here will make you feel good and see some amazing things,” Ray said.

Evan zipped his red wheelchair down the concrete walk way to the pavilion near the dock.

“It’s made a huge difference for him,” said Evan’s mother Storm Majewski. “Joe is a great motivator. People come out here and they’re inspired.”

Ray ended the tour by inviting everyone to a ski clinic this Saturday, June 12.

“If you want to sit-ski, we’ll put you in one and show you how,” he said. “Actually, able-bodied people have a harder time sit-skiing than disabled because they try to use their legs.”

Ray is a nine-time world champion skier, but he doesn’t publicize that in front of the crowd. Sit-skiing has changed his life and he wants it to change others’ as well.

“People come here to ski, but they get much more than that,” he said.