Day on the Lake Provides Adaptive Water Sports for 20th Year
This year, Barrow Neurological Institute at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Day on the Lake, the only program of its caliber in Arizona that provides disabled individuals with access to adaptive water sports.
This year’s kick-off event, held May 19 through May 21 at Bartlett Lake Marina, attracted hundreds of individuals from around the Valley, including approximately 50 people who participated in events such as kayaking, adapted water skiing, wake boarding, fishing, and jet skiing. Additional Day on the Lake events will take place June 10 and 17, where there will be a special shout out to kids, and Sept. 9 and 10, where there will be a salute to United States Veterans.
Among the participants was Gilbert resident Katie Griffith who returned to the event for her 14th year. Griffith, 30, was born with cerebral palsy and heard about the event through her childhood rehabilitation center. The release is what keeps her coming back: “I like the freeness that it gives you. To be able to do things like this is amazing.”
The only people more dedicated to the event than the participants are the volunteers, many of whom have dedicated 10 or more years to the event. One volunteer, Phoenix resident Brenna Bean, first became involved with Day on the Lake last year as a student, while working at Barrow. Now, a recreational therapist and program coordinator for Daring Adventures, Bean came back to volunteer for her second year, but wishes she could have become involved with the event sooner. “I love the energy of this event and that there are no barriers,” says Bean. “It’s great that Barrow can accommodate so many people with events like Day on the Lake!”
The unique Barrow event attracts people with physical and neurological disabilities and of ranging ages from all across Arizona. This year, the youngest participant was three-years-old and the oldest was in his 80’s. The event prides itself on taking special safety precautions so that the participants only have to worry about enjoying themselves: the marina is completely wheelchair accessible, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are always within reach, many volunteers have medical certification, participants must complete a water safety test before joining in on the activities, and a jet ski follows each participant who goes out on the water.
Barrow believes events like Day on the Lake can help participants maintain active and productive lives. Studies of the Day on the Lake program have shown that 65 to 70 percent of participants are more likely to sustain an active lifestyle and occupy their time with productive hobbies, including but not limited to returning to school or work, taking a recreation class, going to a gym, or exploring adapted driving options.
“We’re dedicated to helping provide post-injury patients with access to recreation,” says Jo Crawford, program coordinator for St. Joseph’s Barrow Connection. Bryan Church, owner of the Bartlett Lake Marina, has generously lent his services to the event for the past two decades. Church, who uses a wheelchair and has undergone neuro rehabilitation like many of the event’s participants, is overjoyed that the marina can have such a positive impact on so many people. To obtain more information about upcoming events, or make a donation to the program, please call Jo Crawford at 602-406-6280.