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A new nonprofit organization, Graceful Wakes, is helping people with disabilities get out on the water. The organization will host an adaptive water ski event July 15.
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A new nonprofit organization, Graceful Wakes, is helping people with disabilities get out on the water. The organization will host an adaptive water ski event July 15.
7/7/2016 7:29:00 AM
Nonprofit organization Graceful Wakes helps people with disabilities enjoy water sports

Kayla Thomason
Feature Writer

It's summer and in the Northwoods that typically involves plenty of time spent enjoying water-related recreational activities, especially skiing, tubing and boarding, but it's not easy for everyone to get out on the water.

Those with disabilities are often relegated to watching from shore, but a local organization is hoping to change that.

Later this month, Graceful Wakes, a 501c(3) non-profit organization, will be offering an adaptive water ski event for those with disabilities.

The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 15 at Boom Lake.

Disabled individuals age 6 and older, who do not have brittle bone disease or suffer from seizures, may participate in the free event. Those with brittle bone disease or seizures won't be able to participate due to safety concerns, organizers said.

Those who can participate will have the chance to water ski using a specially designed adaptive water ski. They will also have two trained side skiers next to them for support. People may also participate in tubing, pontoon boat rides, lunch and a relaxing day at the beach.

"The adaptive water ski is a specially designed ski where the participant sits in it," said Grace Petzold, founder of Graceful Wakes. "On the adaptive ski, there is a special holder for the rope if the participant is unable to hold it. To get the participants out of the water, two trained side skiers help them out and keep them stable while riding."

CT's Deli will be providing lunch at no cost to the participants.

Petzold is pleased to be able to share her love of water sports with others.

"I think it is extremely important for activities like these to be available for those with disabilities because they need to be able to experience activities like these and have fun as well," she said.

Graceful Wakes was established in 2015 after Petzold shared an amazing experience with her mother in Florida.

"In 2015, I had the opportunity to water ski with my mom, who uses a wheelchair, through an adaptive waterski program in Florida," she said. "This inspired my family and I to want to provide (an) opportunity for other people with disabilities to get on the water, so we decided to create Graceful Wakes."

This will be Graceful Wakes' first adaptive water ski clinic, however all of the volunteers and Petzold have experience participating in similar events.

"The most rewarding thing for me and all of the volunteers is seeing the smiles on the participants faces when they come in after skiing," Petzold said. "Some of the things I've heard from the participants is how they feel free while out on the water and how during that time they're out there, they forget about their challenges and are just able to have fun."

Those who would like to participate in the event can preregister by contacting Space is limited to approximately 15 individuals.

For those who can't attend this event, there will be another clinic in Mequon later this summer.

If the weather should be unfavorable, the event will be postponed to a date that has yet to be determined.

For more information, visit Graceful Wakes' Facebook page at, or Please note that the website is nearly complete and should be up and running by the end of July.

Kayla Breese may be reached at kayla@rivernews

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