June 6, 2014

It’s all about the smiles

By Annette Tait

Smiling faces were everywhere last Saturday at Nelson Lake. Ear-to-ear grins were sported by skiers, volunteers, parents, family members and friends, no matter what they were doing: getting ready to take off on a ride around the lake on skis or in the pontoon boat, on the water, watching skiers, providing assistance, or just relaxing in lawn chairs on the shore.
“It’s all about the smiles,” Sporting Chance President and Volunteer Brian Haag said, when asked what prompted him to be an adaptive recreation volunteer. “Whether it’s water skiing, bow hunting, fishing -- at the end of the day, it’s just a smile on their face, the enjoyment of being out with them, that’s the goal right there. That’s what I enjoy.”
Sporting Chance is a Bismarck-based organization that provides behind-the-scenes help -- set-up, logistics and other support -- to staff and volunteers from the North Dakota Association for the Disabled, a non-profit charitable organization that annually hosts Escape to the Lake.
The event began when NDAD President and CEO Ron Gibbins’ son, Mike, who has cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair, wanted to go to Texas and try waterskiing. “Someone had sent him an audio tape of it,” Gibbins remembered. As a parent, his first reaction was “there was no way he could water ski.”
Gibbins and his wife, Faye, went to Texas with Mike, expecting the outing to be a disaster.


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