Event helps injury victims enjoy the freedom of water sports

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SMITHVILLE, Mo. -- Summer for many means time off work and school, vacations and fun out on the water. A group in Kansas City is giving people with spinal cord injuries the opportunity to enjoy some of those outdoor activities too.

Water skiing is a big part of spending time out here on the lake, and Friday morning 60 people, who aren't able to walk, got to experience the joy and freedom of that sport out on the water at Smithville Lake.

Elainia Rogers, whose life changed drastically 20 years ago, was an avid water skier until an accident confined her to a wheelchair.

“They had a hard time getting me out of the car,” said Rogers about her accident. “It`s just a lot of stuff to learn and it`s just depressing at points.”

There was no depression on Friday though as Rogers got fitted for her adapted water skis and hit the waves.

And while the skiers were out there having a blast, safety came into play with two teams on jet skis on either side of the skier, with a jumper ready to go into the water in case the skier needs help.

A process the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City plans for months, so 60 people who can`t walk are able to get out and water ski.

“We take all those extra steps to make sure that it is one smooth process,” said Sarah Murphy with the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City. “Helping anybody makes you feel awesome, but seeing the experience that all of our participants get out on the water, is awesome

Participants experience a few minutes out of their wheel chairs.

“It`s a freedom, just, you can do this. I bet you a lot of able-bodied people can`t ski like we ski,” said Rogers.

This year is the 20th year organizers have put on this event. They say nothing compares to the joy they feel in helping these injury victims “get out of the chair and into the water.”


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