With help from Kevin and Laura Burkart in 2017, the Shakopee-Prior Lake Shockwaves Water Ski Association (SPLWSA) founded the Shockwaves Adaptive Waterski Squad as part of our 78-year-old local water ski team. Kevin Burkart, himself an adapted water skier (left arm paralysis), was chosen as the first program director.
I am 28 years old and I was born with cerebral palsy, which has required me to use an electric wheelchair all my life. I’ve always been a real go-getter and stuck to the program. I went from being an adapted skier to volunteering on the dock, helping to promote the program and finally becoming a director. It all happened over a period of three or four years and I love every minute of it. I have always had the mentality of action and my aspirations are to transmit these good vibes to as many people as possible.
Adapted water skiing is a therapeutic recreational activity for everyone, whatever their ability. Anyone with paraplegics, quadriplegics, blindness, neurological disorders, veterans, amputees and the mentally handicapped. Our adapted water ski equipment offers a unique opportunity for people with reduced mobility, visual or otherwise, to discover the joys and benefits of water sports. We always say that if you have the will to ski, we will get there.
Using the latest adaptive gear, tournament grade tugs and one-on-one instruction, the Shockwaves Adaptive Ski Team creates an atmosphere that promotes independence and success on water skis, regardless of physical limitation. Creating water sports opportunities for people of all skill levels and backgrounds fulfills our mission. We have a specially designed adaptive chair on oversized skis, we have special devices that can keep individuals out of the water on two skis.
Our water ski team travels to Hoyt Lakes every summer to perform two water ski shows during the Water Carnival. I rode with the team two years ago and did adaptive skiing in the show for one of the very first times. A few people have come and want to know everything about adapted water skiing. So, from there, the idea grew into “why can’t we do an adapted clinic at the same time as our ski show?” So that’s where the dream of continuing the program in the North came true. I feel like a world class professional skier towed in specially designed adaptive gear.
We take with us a decked out trailer full of state-of-the-art adaptive water ski equipment. We offer two distinct possibilities to take two trips around the lake behind one of our high powered, professional grade water ski boats. We bring everything so that everyone can get out on the water. We always tell people to bring clothes and clothes to be in the water. We provide life jackets, water, snacks and two beach wheelchairs to get you into the water if needed. We even feed you and whoever shows up.
This year’s event will take place July 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Birch Cove Beach (204 Pospeck Ln., Hoyt Lakes).
Nicholas Brown is the director of Shockwaves Adaptive Waterski Squad.