Justin Kay didn't let the occasional rain at Thurmond Lake interfere with his plans at the Adaptive Water Skiing Clinic.
The 12-year-old was ready to dive right in.
"I like going swimming and stuff like that," said Justin, who has autism and mild cerebral palsy. "I thought it would be fun to come out and have a good time."
The skiing clinic, held at Little River Marina, was designed to introduce children and adults with physical disabilities to adaptive waterskiing techniques.
Champions Made From Adversity and MCG Health held the program.
Justin rode on a pontoon boat before he was ready to try skiing and tubing, neither of which he had attempted before.
"Usually he has an aversion to water," said Nancy Kay, Justin's mother. "I'm proud of him."
She also said she felt thankful her son could experience this type of activity.
"This is one of the few things I found for a handicapped child to do," the Harlem resident said. "It's something you can do as a family."
Judie Thompson, the programs and service director of Champions Made From Adversity, said 200 volunteers from Fort Gordon, medical centers and other places throughout the community offered their assistance.
She said 40 participants between the ages of 6 and 38 were scheduled to ski.
The adaptive skis allowed each skier to sit down without having to hold on to a rope. Volunteers stationed in the water and riding on personal watercraft monitored the skiers' safe return to shore.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office and the Emergency Management Agency Dive Team also were on hand.
The clinic had other types of water activities, including skiing, tubing, pontoon boat rides, swimming and games on shore.
Andrew Booker, 5, of Evans, couldn't stop smiling on his tubing trip, said his godmother, Susan Wise.
"He loves it," Wise said about Andrew, who has cerebral palsy. "For him, the movement provides him the experience that everyday kids can experience. It's motivating."
For Thompson, those smiles make the event worth the work.
"To see someone go out there to ski and come back in and see the smile on their face, it's just awesome," she said.
Champions Made From Adversity Vice Chairman Scott Winkler was busy taking participants tubing on his boat. Though he had no plans to ski, Winkler said he loved seeing the riders have so much fun.
"It gives them a second chance in life to have a little bit of fun," said Winkler, a Grovetown resident and paralyzed veteran who will head to Beijing this year to compete in the Paralympic Games. "Being in a wheelchair is not the end of the world."
Thompson said she hopes the clinic provides the participants with a sense of independence.
She also wants to demonstrate that people with physical disabilities can participate in certain activities. They just do so in a different way, she said.
"Anybody can ski," Thompson said. "It doesn't matter if you're sitting down or standing up, you're still waterskiing."
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